William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

How To Make An Atheist Cry

jdt

Before I expose the secret of atheist lachrymosity, let me tell you how you won’t make a physicist cry.

Tell a physicist that there would be no gravity without G. “G” is the gravitational “constant” (or maybe even a scalar field), a parameter that makes equations for gravity work out. No G, no gravity. No gravity, no universe-as-we-know-it. Flatville, where there isn’t even one TV channel, where there aren’t any TVs, and no beings to watch them. Boring place!

You just try and tell a physicist that. I dare you. Know what he’ll do?

He’ll say, with eyes as dry as Hillary’s upon learning about the death of Seth Rich, “True. But there is G, therefore there is gravity. Now let’s watch the Tigers on TV.”

The physicist knows what a counterfactual proposition is, the answer to which he doesn’t take personally.

Not so with the atheist. Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping and gnashing of teeth; there will be hot, bitter tears; there will cries of anguish and hurt feelings. There will be charges of hate. There will be calumny!

Now it does not follow, and it is not claimed, that because somebody does not believe in God that they are therefore immoral. Just as it does not follow, as it is never claimed, that because somebody does not believe in G that they are therefore weightless. A person who denies G will still get wet when taking a long walk off a short dock, just as a person who denies God will still have qualms when stealing candy from a baby.

Yet every time a theist makes the obvious true point that if there were no God, there could be no absolute morality, no universal right and no universal wrong, the atheist believes, or pretends to believe, he has been insulted. He therefore cries: genuine waterworks if he could not follow the counterfactual, crocodile tears if he could. He takes it personally, or claims to.

Of course atheists can be moral if they disbelieve in God! Of course a man will not float into the aether if he disbelieves in G! Because there really is ultimate morality, just like there really is gravity.

We can say more. The man who disbelieves in G, or says he does, will not venture past the dock’s end, unless his disbelief is so sincere that he is able to ignore all the evidence from his senses that he is not floating. He must disbelieve in G so strongly that he (practically) cares for nothing else except his odd theory. Only then will he keep walking, certain sure that his Birkenstocks will remain dry.

What will enter his mind after his dunking? Most men would at that point convert and admit their error and proclaim the truth of G. But for a few men, ideological and dogmatic, one aquatic experience will not be enough. Nor two. Nor maybe even a lifetime’s dunkings. The lure of their fantastical theory is too strong.

These diehards will cry when you insist on the reality of G.

Similarly, the man who denies God, or says he does, will not rape, murder, and steal, at least, not at rates different (or much different) than other men, unless his disbelief is so strong that he sincerely acts on the conclusion that, without God, there is no universal morality. The logic that gives this conclusion would be valid and sound if the premise “God does not exist” is true, which it isn’t. Anyway, this man will reason that if nothing matters, whatever he does is without moral consequence. He might do anything.

He’ll get away with anything at no greater rates than others, until he meets a posse of men who, if they don’t believe in God, at least believe in God’s morality.

This man, whether caught or no, won’t cry when you insist on the reality of God. Not real tears, anyway.

186 Comments

  1. They don’t all weep. Some of them are giddy with gnostic bliss, so happy to be one of the elite that know more than anyone else — the ones with the “secret knowledge” of how the world really works, unlike the masses of stupid, blind people who don’t.
    But I’ve noticed also that a lot of them are angry. They are furious with God, who doesn’t exist. I think that’s a bit silly. I don’t believe in Hindu gods, and it has never occurred to me to be angry with them. I once asked someone why he was angry with God, if God didn’t exist, and asked if that showed he DID believe that God existed, because you can’t be angry with someone you don’t believe in. He said, “No.” So then I asked him what he wanted to do that he knew God would say no to, and he ended the conversation.

  2. Yes, without the wise moral council of religion, we wouldn’t know that the right punishment for adultery is stoning to death, would we!

  3. Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping and gnashing of teeth; there will be hot, bitter tears; there will cries of anguish and hurt feelings. There will be charges of hate. There will be calumny!

    I can tell your proposition is wrong because this atheist does not react as you presume. When I hear it, first I laugh. Then I ask: How do you know? And, finally I recommend you a book:

    Chimps and Bonobos Prove that Moral Behavior is a Product of Evolution

    http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/chimps_and_bonobos_prove_that_moral_behavior_is_a_product_of_evolution/

    As for a “universal morality”, what do you mean? The universal need of a morality in human society, or some sort of universally accepted morality? The latter doesn’t exist and anyone with open eyes can realize it. The former has a function. But, it doesn’t depend on God but on human (and anthropoid) social dynamics.

    Try not to feed yourself on false tears. 😉

  4. “the man who denies God, or says he does, will not rape, murder, and steal, at least, not at rates different (or much different) than other men”

    If we are intended to take this as an empirical statement, there is considerable evidence against it. This widely-cited study (http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.pdf) shows that the rates of serious crime (as well as drug use, teenage pregnancy, and other moral ills) are significantly lower among people who do not believe in God. Of course, this does not prove that belief in God actually causes crime and immoral behavior. There are also studies that show no significant difference, and those that show that belief is correlated with lower rates of certain crimes. It depends on how you slice and dice the data. But the stark statement that there is no difference in rates would be difficult to support.

  5. Christians sin. Being a christian doesn’t mean that you are perfect and will always make good choices. Being a christian is to realize that you are not perfect.

    “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

  6. Physicists are immune to counterfactual propositions, but biologists weep exactly as atheists do, if they don’t run from the room to start with. What does that say about biology and its “facts”?

    I see the “hit with an irrelevant quote” responses are going to be out in full today. Why do atheists even quote things from a book they don’t believe in and obviously have no understanding of? They ignore any comments by believers made in the same manner, so it seems very ignorant to think the tactic will work on believers. Really, a few catchy little quotes from atheists taken out of context is going to open the eyes of the theists? Same tactic is claimed to not work on atheists. Oh, wait, Gail touched on it. Atheists are morally superior so they can’t be tricked like the common, superstitious fools out there. (Don’t you love the fact that atheists complain theists believe their God is morally superior while claiming their own science gods and beliefs are morally superior?)

  7. @plazaeme:

    “Chimps and Bonobos Prove that Moral Behavior is a Product of Evolution”

    In the Darwininan view every type of behavior is the product of evolution, from altruism to gang raping (examples merely for illustrative purposes), so it follows that Evolution explains exactly nothing — or more precisely, it does not and can not explain the moral *difference*.

    “As for a “universal morality”, what do you mean? The universal need of a morality in human society, or some sort of universally accepted morality? The latter doesn’t exist and anyone with open eyes can realize it.”

    In other words you do not even know what the OP means by morality. But the behavior of chimps and bonobos proves that that which you do not know what is does exist.

    Second, by “universal” the OP does not mean “universally accepted”, but, among other things, valid and binding universally whether men acknowledge it or not (although I would go further and argue, that as to the *basic* principles, they are indeed universally known).

    Third, this implies that you have just denied that there is a moral difference, in the relevant sense, between altruism and gang raping, since gang raping is not universally condemned since it has been practiced throughout the history of mankind, and at least in some cases, without any moral qualms. Which boils down to reject that morality, as the OP conceives it, exists. The conditional in the OP that you quote is “Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping and gnashing of teeth” which can be put in the equivalent logical form “If there is morality then God exists”, and the contrapositive is “If there is no God there is no morality”. Now as we have seen, you have just denied that morality, in the relevant sense of the OP, exists; and your words indicate that you believe that God does not exist. In other words you agree with the OP.

    note(s):
    – I should probably add that I myself, while thinking that “If there is morality then God exists” is true, also believe the connection is somewhat indirect and needs considerable argumentation (which is not to say that Mr. Briggs does not think the same, maybe he does).

  8. I only claim to be an atheist so that the theists out there stay the F away. I don’t know. I cannot know. The best I can do when it come to G is feel… So really I am an agnostic. All the evidence out there points to there not being a god. That doesn’t preclude someone from accurately saying that the evidence that there is a god is clear. I am attempting to point out that both views are extraordinarily capable of being true at the same time.

    I have three fundamental points I use to get to a happy morality.

    1. Survive
    2. Survive
    3. Survive

    Survival of Self, Survival of Genes, Survival of Community. Not stealing candy from babies is a better way of making all three happen at the same time. Morality is a set of policies that tend to increase the survival rate of the group.

    If the group is 100 in size. Homosexuality is likely immoral. When the group is 7B in size, it is no longer immoral.

    Some might view “Survive, Survive, Survive” as a “looking out for number 1”. They are correct at some level. My first job is to make sure I survive. If I am not around, I cannot make sure my genes survive and I definitely can’t help the community to survive. That doesn’t mean that I come first in all things, it just means that I am in control of my immediate surroundings and my first responsibility to not end up dead by being an idiot.

    You won’t get me crying by such statements dear host. I doubt that James Randi or the other atheists I admire will either.

    This atheist is able to recognize when circumstances went well though. The wheel dropped off my car two days ago. I was going 65 up a mountain pass. It fell off when there were no cars around, the road was straight, and there was a convenient spot to pull off. The continued to drive straight on its brake rotor. In the same breath I said to the tow truck driver “Someone was looking out for me AND someone was reminding me to remain humble!”

    Someone may be no one. I can see it as divine intervention. I can also see it as just the luck of the draw. And good engineering. And bad maintenance on my part. And good defensive driving skills. And …. …. …

    You are not going to make me cry. I can see you making the A+Theists cry.

    They don’t get it.

  9. Lee,

    In that linked study I did a control-f for ‘income’ (and related terms), but didn’t find any reference. Yes, the study picked 1st world countries, but as we all know first world countries still have poverty and various social ills (such as fatherlessness) that correlate with crime and the like.

    The other problem with measuring societal immorality is that it tends to only be (or can only be) measured in terms of interpersonal violent immorality. In other words, of violating ideas like ‘do unto others’. Researchers who do not consider abortion or premarital sex immoral will not be counting it in their data.

    Then there’s the difference, I think, between actually religious people and culturally religious (where it’s just a thing that the community does, but it doesn’t hold much sway in how a person lives). I wonder if the difference is accounted for in questions that ask how religious someone is? It would be interesting to find out.

  10. Matt undoubtedly expected (so did I) commentary, if not from ‘the usual suspects’, at least, from those espousing the usual range of modern reactions to a post such as this.

    To tease out two of the concepts Matt here presents:
    a. there could be no right and no wrong, without God
    b. the morality that God grounds, is a universal morality, right and wrong applicable to all men of all times and places

    It is to b) that I address the following. Three difficulties are that a) obviously, not all men of all times and places follow the precepts of the universal morality; b) obviously, not all men of all times and places agree on the particular precepts of the universal morality (this includes official Catholic Church teaching — see, e.g., lending at interest, slavery, religious liberty, torture); c) less obviously, not all men of all times and places even possess the concept of a universal morality, let alone universally ‘know’ it.

    Readers not to-the-death committed to Matt’s placid view of the state of the question regarding universal morality, and who seek more learning than can be had in the usual range of modern reactions to this particular topic, may profit not only from the below-referenced, relatively temperate and un-condescending piece, but also from the extensive comments on it attached to it, both from the author of that piece, and from others (who include committed Thomists):

    http://www.unz.com/pfrost/does-natural-law-exist/

    To whet interest, here are a few things the author of the above-referenced piece, Peter Frost, wrote in the the Comments section of the piece:

    “Most postwar liberals felt that sexual liberalization would produce more stable marriages, i.e., unhappy marriages would be dissolved and replaced by happy marriages. Many are starting to realize that reality isn’t so simple, but it’s not clear to them what the alternative would be. Most of what passes for social conservatism isn’t an alternative. Modern conservatism like modern liberalism has become a sensibility that runs on automatic pilot.”

    “I wish we could go back to the “ugly” Christianity of Thomas Aquinas. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem possible. As for modern Christianity, it’s terminally stupid. I have my own ideas, but they involve gentle persuasion and not tyranny.”

    “Neither the Old nor the New Testament says that killing is wrong. (“Thou shalt not kill” is a bad translation. The Hebrew word corresponds more to the idea of unlawful killing). We must be willing to kill to defend ourselves and our loved ones. Anyone who says otherwise is a false Christian.”

  11. G. Rodrigues (@ 10:18 AM)

    In the Darwininan view every type of behavior is the product of evolution, from altruism to gang raping (examples merely for illustrative purposes), , so it follows that Evolution explains exactly nothing — or more precisely, it does not and can not explain the moral *difference*.

    So, you think in the Darwinian view every type of dog behavior is the product of Evolution, and Evolution can not explain the dog behaviour *difference*. And why do you think I should care about your view on the “Darwinian view”? I said the atheist wouldn’t cry by WB problem, and the observation confirms they don’t.

    Why don’t they cry? I don’t know and I don’t care. The fact is they don’t . I suggested a possibility could be a “Darwinian view”. I didn’t suggest yo should be convinced by it. They may have a wrong believe. You may have a wrong understanding of their believe (you have). But this is not the point. The point is they don’t cry because of the alleged inexistent problem.

    In other words you do not even know what the OP means by morality. But the behavior of chimps and bonobos proves that that which you do not know what is does exist.

    Very wrong. I don´t know what “universal (or absolute, etc) morality” is supposed to mean in this context. The chimps may prove that that which I certainly DO know, moral behaviour, is a product of Evolution.

    Second, by “universal” the OP does not mean “universally accepted”, but, among other things, valid and binding universally whether men acknowledge it or not

    OK, thank you. Then, the problem should be changed. Something like this:

    – Tell an atheist there could be no morality valid and binding universally whether men acknowledge it or not, without G.

    You know what? He won’t cry; he will agree: There is not G and there is not a “morality valid and binding universally whether men acknowledge it or not”.

    You could probably understand better the atheist by the origin of the idea (morality). Latin mos mores (custom): what it is done. It had nothing to do with God. It had everything to do with tradition and culture. For example, It tells you when you meet someone unknown whether you are going to kill each other or say “good morning”. It is a wonderfull (and necessary) tool to grow complex (big) societies. And you don’t need any God to tell you – although it can help.

  12. I must say that making an atheist cry does seem unlikely. Most are belligerent, in-your-face types that complain about theists being pushy while riveling the most outspoken theist out there. They are morally superior to everyone else. Why would they cry when it’s so much more fun to deride and denounce the superstitious fools on the planet?

    Brad T: Your comments are actually pretty close to what I think “rationalists” would believe. That being that survival of the species is what you use as a moral stance without God being involved. Humans should be concentrating on being the biggest and toughest and stop apologizing for what they do, according to Darwin and science. Morality is whatever works for surviving, whether it’s getting along or stabbing your leaders in the back to get a change in the government. Violence served people well throughout all of history. Perhaps that’s who we are in the view of Darwin and in the absence of God. Perhaps that’s who we are no matter what. Maybe the only difference is how we label the action—part of evolution and fine to engage in or morally wrong but people engage in the activities anyway.

  13. “Yet every time a theist makes the obvious true point that if there were no God, there could be no absolute morality, no universal right and no universal wrong, the atheist believes, or pretends to believe, he has been insulted. He therefore cries….”

    Au contraire; I submit most of today’s Progressives, the majority of whom are atheist, do not believe in the existence of any absolute morality, rather preferring to traverse the moral equivalence road. There are many examples of this. Thus, many, when confronted with this assertion would gleefully (and incorrectly) cite their case for the absence of an absolute or universal morality as evidence toward their mainstay argument, i.e., that God does not exist. Thus, far from crying (sadly) they would likely chuckle.

  14. They must have had a sale on paper-bag rhetoric at k-mart recently.

  15. @plazaeme:

    “So, you think in the Darwinian view every type of dog behavior is the product of Evolution, and Evolution can not explain the dog behaviour *difference*.”

    Was that what I wrote? No, what I wrote is that Evolutionary history cannot explain the *moral difference* in altruistic behavior and gang raping (to give two examples) at least, and this is an additional qualification, without some extra premises. I never addressed or uttered anything over wheter or you should or not cry.

    “Very wrong. I don´t know what “universal (or absolute, etc) morality” is supposed to mean in this context. The chimps may prove that that which I certainly DO know, moral behaviour, is a product of Evolution.”

    “Very wrong” what? You do not know “universal (or absolute, etc) morality” is supposed to mean so quite clearly the behavior of chimps and bonobos is irrelevant to it. It may be relevant to what *you* mean by “moral behavior” but you framed your comment as an objection to the OP, so the relevant conception is the one of the OP, so yes I am perfectly correct.

    “And you don’t need any God to tell you – although it can help.”

    I never said or suggested that we needed God to tell us, in fact I said something that directly contradicts it (with some qualifications that I will pass over), the parenthetic remark “although I would go further and argue, that as to the *basic* principles, they are indeed universally known”.

  16. @plazaeme:

    Forgot to add this, relatively unimportant closing point:

    “You know what? He won’t cry; he will agree: There is not G and there is not a “morality valid and binding universally whether men acknowledge it or not”.”

    Ok, so as I said in my third point you agree with the OP — except the part of the profuse crying and teeth cringing. Whoever said that there can be no agreement in an internet discussion?

  17. Sheri (@12_44 PM:

    I must say that making an atheist cry does seem unlikely. Most are belligerent, in-your-face types that complain about theists being pushy while riveling the most outspoken theist out there. They are morally superior to everyone else. Why would they cry when it’s so much more fun to deride and denounce the superstitious fools on the planet?

    I don’t know whether you know many atheists or not. I do. I can confirm you have a false perspective produced by the media. You get too much exposure to those like Dawkins, but these are not the mean atheist. There are quite a lot of “relaxed atheists” who don’t hate christians and respect their believes as far as they don’t interefere too much with their lives. Our mothers are christians usually and we don’t hate them, you know what I mean. 😉

  18. “Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping and gnashing of teeth; there will be hot, bitter tears; there will cries of anguish and hurt feelings. There will be charges of hate. There will be calumny!”

    Well, I hope this isn’t calumny, but I’m pretty sure morality, right and wrong, were around long before anyone ever thought of God. I think God is a way of conveying civilization, of consecrating it, but God as we think of Him is a relatively recent invention.

    JMJ

  19. G. Rodrigues (@12:53 PM)

    I never addressed or uttered anything over wheter or you should or not cry.

    You may be addressing something I never talked about. Which I cared to quote:

    Not so with the atheist. Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping and gnashing of teeth; there will be hot, bitter tears; there will cries of anguish and hurt feelings. There will be charges of hate. There will be calumny!

    You want a different discussion? Be my guest. What is your point? You don’t understand how Evolution explains different moral behaviours? So what? Get some reading. I suggest you begin with culture and cognition. Evolution may explain culture and cognition without explaining what you particularly happen to believe and learn.

    And, no, you can not be “perfectly correct”.

    If … G explains “absolute morality” (Briggs)
    and
    If … absolute morality is independent of what humans believe (Rodrigues)
    Then … atheists can not have any problem with that (anti Briggs)
    Because … they don’t believe either in G neither in “absolute morality” (independent on what humans believe).

    It is really simple. What is your problem?

    I never said or suggested that we needed God to tell us

    And I didn’t said you said it. It is just some context.

    To the point. I am adressing Briggs idea of atheists, and an imaginary problem he thinks atheists have. What was your problem?

    Ok, so as I said in my third point you agree with the OP

    Sure. As far as “morality” is “absolute morality” I agree. But, it isn’t.

  20. Biblical marriage, the well-known chart:

    http://www.upworthy.com/the-top-8-ways-to-be-traditionally-married-according-to-the-bible

    Genesis 2:24 says a bride not a virgin is to be stoned. Here’s a narrative explaining the “virgin test” of the bride’s morality as, presumably, handed down by God (after all, its in the Bible):

    http://coatofmanycolors.net/2011/10/29/marriage-in-the-bible-virgin-test/

    Somehow I suspect that everybody who might believe stoning in such a situation is right & proper would likely, in this day and age, reject the Biblical “virgin test” for something more “science-based.”

    Then there’s the bit about rape — that sure looks like, in some cases, it was a nifty shortcut for someone that really wants to marry a particular girl…rape her and then he’s required to purchase her…

    Broad philosophical generalities (like “only morality can come from God”) sure seem prudent…until one digs, even just a bit, into the details to find where that takes us….

    The exact same “moral” prohibitions show up in numerous cultures separated by geography & religion, or lack thereof (where “lack thereof” for false, and thus pagan, religions) — murder, incest, theft and so on & so forth are consistently prohibited. Surely it must be obvious that such consistent prohibitions are mandatory for maintaining a functioning society dependent on the mutual interdependence of all its members, and as such, the need to invoke a deity to have decreed these from on-high is hardly necessary. Such morals amount to “common sense.”

  21. RE: “Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping and gnashing of teeth; there will be hot, bitter tears; there will cries of anguish and hurt feelings. There will be charges of hate. There will be calumny!”

    YEP. The atheist will disagree and, if they don’t brush it off, will point out examples where morals clearly arose without God (because they arose with a false, and thus nonexistent, God) … in response to which the cult-minded believer (as opposed to other types) will respond like Briggs.

    RE: “…this man [who denies God] will reason that if nothing matters, whatever he does is without moral consequence. He might do anything.”

    UNFORTUNATELY, there is a very large group of Christian believers who conclude that, because they believe, they are saved — and many of them do many immoral things expressly because they believe and thus conclude they are saved. Belief, in other words, is the enabling factor for exercising immorality in too many.

    One of those TV cops shows portrayed this with a murderous drug trafficker caught in Florida — in his home was a shrine to the Madonna replete with the usual icons & candles & so forth, and, a gun & handcuffs — the latter to help solicit divine intervention to avoid being caught by the police for the murders & such this guy was committing. The officer pointing this out for the TV audience mentioned this is not at all uncommon, especially with the S. American traffickers & their particular version of Catholicism. There’s religious morality for ya.

  22. Sander van der Wal

    August 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Every behaviour *observed in evolved creatures* being the result of Evolution is a very reasonable hypothesis. Nobody is claiming that creatures will have every behaviour that can be imagined. For evolution, one expects that the behaviours are such that the majority of the creatures have more change of reproducing than the behaviours that result in early deaths.

    And secondly, this is a bold prediction, so we learn more about the limits of Evolution theory by saying that is responsible for everything, and then investigating whether this is true of not in as many cases as can be funded.

  23. G. Rodrigues (@12:53 PM)

    I’ll add some explaining, because this is the point.

    As far as “morality” is “absolute morality” I agree. But, it isn’t.

    Atheist: “morality” is a human (but not only human) social tool and “absolute morality” is a religious fantasy. So, it depends on what Briggs means — he has used both terms.

    If … he means “morality” -> we don’t agree. It doesn’t need God.

    If … he means “absolute morality” (a fantasy) -> we agree. It needs God (another fantasy). No problem.

    That’s why I asked what he was meaning with “absolute (universal, etc) morality.

  24. @plazaeme:

    “What is your problem?”

    This is what was going to ask you. So on to your complaints.

    First complaint: “You may be addressing something I never talked about. Which I cared to quote:”

    And this in response to “I never addressed or uttered anything over wheter or you should or not cry.” But the whole paragraph is

    “No, what I wrote is that Evolutionary history cannot explain the *moral difference* in altruistic behavior and gang raping (to give two examples) at least, and this is an additional qualification, without some extra premises. I never addressed or uttered anything over wheter or you should or not cry.”

    And in the first post, this came up in response to:

    “Chimps and Bonobos Prove that Moral Behavior is a Product of Evolution”

    Nothing about atheists crying or whatever, which as I said I never addressed. What I did address was a logical point about what does or what does not follow from Evolutionary theory.

    Second complaint (full quote):

    “And, no, you can not be “perfectly correct”.

    If … G explains “absolute morality” (Briggs)
    and
    If … absolute morality is independent of what humans believe (Rodrigues)
    Then … atheists can not have any problem with that (anti Briggs)
    Because … they don’t believe either in G neither in “absolute morality” (independent on what humans believe).

    It is really simple. What is your problem?”

    That you cannot read. Because this has nothing to do with what I said in the “so I am perfectly correct” paragraph.

    “I am adressing Briggs idea of atheists, and an imaginary problem he thinks atheists have. What was your problem?”

    About this specific point? None. My “problem” was with other points that you either said, implied or suggested, as is clear from what I wrote, well except to you. This is done all the time in the public discussions, addressing points other than what you intended to be your main one, and if you do not like the flak don’t comment. Although the “atheists” that the OP mentions are anything but imaginary, since they do exist. You may not fit the profile (and many more may not for all I know) but then so what?

  25. G. Rodrigues (@ 1:50 PM)

    As far as I can see the only “other points” you adressed is this one

    “Evolutionary history cannot explain the *moral difference* in altruistic behavior and gang raping”

    Yes, it can — and I suggested some threads to follow. But it is immaterial. If the atheist believes it can, then follows he doesn’t need God to explain it.

    I am -for now- only interested in the recurrent problems Briggs have with atheists. And with morality. I am trying to help. We could have an infinite discussion on Evolution but, I certainly don’t see the point of it.

  26. @plazaeme:

    “Yes, it can — and I suggested some threads to follow.”

    No it cannot as I have shown, your unargued claims notwithstanding.

    “If the atheist believes it can, then follows he doesn’t need God to explain it.”

    What kind of an idiotic statement is this? I am not interested in the delusional beliefs of atheists, just as I presume you are not interested in the delusional beliefs of theists, but in *arguments*, and what they can or cannot establish.

    And since you have already agreed with the OP that if God does not exist then there is no morality as the OP conceives, not the shriveled carcass, good-for-nothing that you call morality, what else is there to discuss (besides your having your feathers ruffled with Mr. Briggs’ apparent stereotyping of atheists)?

  27. G. Rodrigues (@2:23 PM)

    Are you trying to be cute or something?

    No it cannot as I have shown, your unargued claims notwithstanding.

    There was not something to argue about. You just have to look.

    Moral: behaviour you expect from others and others expect from you.

    1) Two dogs meet in the street for the first time. They need a full and long protocol to decide how to behave. It may result in death.

    2) Two humans meet in the street for the first time. Morality tells them in what to do, with cero waste of time and no harm.

    Etc. You get better oiled and bigger societies. Evolution explains the *moral difference* in altruistic behavior and gang raping.

    “If the atheist believes it can, then follows he doesn’t need God to explain it.”

    What kind of an idiotic statement is this? I am not interested in the delusional beliefs of atheists, just as I presume you are not interested in the delusional beliefs of theists, but in *arguments*, and what they can or cannot establish

    You presume too much, with not too much intelligence. Of course I am interested in any believe (delusional or not), because it is the believe what will make the atheist to cry or not to cry. I am not addressing the problem of who is right, atheist or theist. I am not trying to explain theists they are wrong. I am trying to explain to a particular theist (Briggs) he is wrong about the worldview of theists, and their non existent problems with morality. This point doesn’t interest you? Not my problem, it is my point.

    And since you have already agreed with the OP that if God does not exist then there is no morality as the OP conceives, not the shriveled carcass, good-for-nothing that you call morality, what else is there to discuss (besides your having your feathers ruffled with Mr. Briggs’ apparent stereotyping of atheists)?

    Morality “as the OP conceives” is your interpretation. I’ve not heard it from Briggs. We can discuss whether it is a fantasy. Or wheter the real morality which exists in the world (that what humans believe to be moral) is a “shriveled carcass, good-for-nothing”, or is what permits society to be as it is (big, complex, effective, etc).

    Because, yes, my cute friend, this is precisely the question. What is morality; where does it come from; what function it implements; what would the lack of morality change? And this is what Evolutionary history -but not God- can explain.

    Of course you can define morality with a non-existent fantasy. It may explain God, but it won’t explain what morality does. And that’s the whole point.

  28. Sorry, error:

    he is wrong about the worldview of theists

    Should be:

    he is wrong about the worldview of atheists

  29. @plazaeme:

    “Evolution explains the *moral difference* in altruistic behavior and gang raping.”

    Yes you keep asserting but you have not responded to my argument, because there is no response: pick two examples of behavior, one moral and another immoral. There are evolutionary explanations for the arisal of these two behaviors (which I did not dispute), but quite obviously, and of logiocal necessity, Evolution theory cannot explain or ground why one behavior is moral and the other is not. Additonal premises are needed. I am really embarassed to have to explain this in so much pedantic detail as if you were an idiot.

    “Of course I am interested in any believe (delusional or not), because it is the believe what will make the atheist to cry or not to cry. I am not addressing the problem of who is right, atheist or theist. I am not trying to explain theists they are wrong. I am trying to explain to a particular theist (Briggs) he is wrong about the worldview of theists, and their non existent problems with morality.”

    And once again this has nothing to do with what I specifically objected to. Why are you even *quoting* me, if you are not responding to *anything* in the quote? To engage in the pretense that we having a dialogue? Because you are not talking to me. What you said was and I quote:

    “If the atheist believes it can, then follows he doesn’t need God to explain it.”

    Which implies that the mere fact that the atheist “believes”, he therefore has a good explanation, which of course a very idiotic thing to say. This is what I objected to.

    “Because, yes, my cute friend, this is precisely the question.”

    I am not cute and certainly not your friend.

    Since talking to you is like talking to a brick wall (and alas, I am pretty sure that I am also partly to blame and for that my apologies) I give up.

  30. G Rodrigues.

    but quite obviously, and of logiocal necessity, Evolution theory cannot explain or ground why one behavior is moral and the other is not. Additonal premises are needed.

    I thought you would understand it with the comparison between dogs and humans. Moral is whatever behaviour some society defines as moral. By definition of moral.

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/moral

    Some moralities produce functions which produce different societies. You may prefer a hunter-gatherer gang and you may find better a moral well suited for such a society. You may prefer a liberal democracy; whatever. In each society, some behavior is more moral than other. That is what a moral does; classifying behaviors. And, yes, it is perfectly explained by cultural evolution. When you change from “gang rape is cool” to “gang rape is sin”, you change the society. A lot. It may be better fitted to its circumstances, or worse.

    Why are you even *quoting* me, if you are not responding to *anything* in the quote?

    Quote:

    What kind of an idiotic statement is this? I am not interested in the delusional beliefs of atheists, just as I presume you are not interested in the delusional beliefs of theists, but in *arguments*, and what they can or cannot establish.

    Argument.

    1. An atheist will cry or not cry depending in his believes (delusional or not).

    2. A morality IS a believe. Idiotic will be not being interested in believes (delusional or not) when you try to understand morality.

    3. *Arguments* is not the way moralities are established. In history I mean; it may change.

    Of course, you are not trying to understand anything. You have a truth, and you are only trying to find arguments to support your truth — and avoid looking anything else.

    Be happy with your strategy. You are more than intelligent enough to fool yourself quite succesfully.

  31. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    That’s weird. I think I just posted a comment into the wrong post. Now I can’t find it.

  32. Everybody knows objects appear to be attracted to each other because the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) pushes them towards each other with His noodly appendages. Without the FSM, there is no gravity. The proposition begs the question, and thus the counterfactual proposition proves the proposition. Bam! The FSM exists!

    Putting that silliness aside, you have opened up a can of worms. Since you assert there is a God, morality exists because of God, and without God there is no morality, then why is there immorality? Why does the occurrence of gang rape prove the existence of God? Why are Buddhists kind to each other? Why do people blow themselves up in crowded markets? If God is such a reliable constant to explain and predict morality, then why is moral behavior so hard to predict and immoral behavior so hard to explain?

    I love you all!

  33. “Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include tooth decay in His divine system of creation? Why in the world did He ever create pain?’
    ‘Pain?’ Lieutenant Shiesskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. ‘Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.’
    ‘And who created the dangers?’ Yossarian demanded. ‘Why couldn’t He have used a doorbell to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead?’
    ‘People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes right in the middle of their foreheads.’
    ‘They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony, don’t they?”

    “What the hell are you getting so upset about?’ he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrive amusement. ‘I thought you didn’t believe in God.’
    I don’t,’ she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. ‘But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make Him to be.’
    Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. ‘Let’s have a little more religious freedom between us,’ he proposed obligingly. ‘You don’t believe in the God you want to, and I won’t believe in the God I want to . Is that a deal?”
    ? Joseph Heller, Catch-22

  34. Look at ISIS morality, look at medieval morality. All carried out in the name of God. Look at slavery, look at torturing. All considered fully morally acceptable until a few centuries ago. God himself ordered in the bible the killing of babies and rape of conquered women. Absolute morality does not exist. Morality evolved, together with humans.

  35. Woo-hoo! This post has provoked a whole lot of God-haters out into the streets brandishing their superstition like a badge of honour.

    As usual (although mostly only slyly implied) the formal justification for Godlessness is the superstitious presumption of “omnipotent” “Evolution”. The mere fact that Naturalistic Evolution is completely scientifically impossible unless all known relevant Natural Laws do not exist or do not apply is of no concern to an egotistically charged ideologue. As the anti-scientific sales-pitch of Julian Huxley about 100 years ago has it: evolution must be true because the alternative is unthinkable. Nothing has changed much except that the proponents of the ideology have become even more confidently dogmatic.

    I suppose that, because a scientific method of hypothesis testing would immediately scuttle the evolution superstition, hypothesis testing is an evil that must be abandoned in favour of untestable “models” and “credible theories”.

    Then, of course, the rationalists and relativists will duck into the smokescreen of agnosticism: “The only thing that you can know is that you can’t know”.

    The science of philosophy has degenerated into a mere rationalisation of ideological prejudice.

  36. I see two main problems, Briggs (or Rodrigues, who knows?).

    1) You decide what an atheist should think, but it is not what atheists actually think.

    2) You decide what morality should be, but it is not what moralities actually are in the world.

    How do you do it? With a fantasy. Morality is absolute (universal, etc). Thus, atheists have to think so and so, and have such and such problems, and you have very “clever” arguments to make atheists look as idiots. But there is not such a thing in the world as a absolute or universal morality. Not even within a culture — they change all the time, given enough time.

    Cognitive dissonance? Not at all! You have a very nice trick (© climate science). Morality is independent of whatever humans think. Of course, cultural evolution is incapable of explaining such miracle – you presume.

    Well … you are wrong. If some society comes to think their morality (and God) is absolute and universal, and totally independent of whatever Briggs thinks, and even Briggs has to surrender to sharia, it probably will cause quite notable effects in such society. (And possibly in Briggs). And the effects may be very well fitted to such society’s circumstances, or not.

    So, here you have a very delusional believe you better care about which establishes a morality — in your meaning of absolute, independent, etc. And it is perfectly explainable by cultural evolucion.

    Oh, it is not the same absolute morality you where talking about? Then you have to change your post. You are no explaining the problems atheists have with the universal morality, but those with Briggs Universal Morality. Who cares?

    Just saying.

  37. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 10, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    THIS IS FROM YOS (went to wrong thread):

    De moralitate atheorum

    Question: Whether those who do not believe in God may act morally.

    Objection 1. It would seem not, because as Jean-Paul Sartre held in “Existentialism is a Humanism, there disappears with God all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that ‘the good’ exists, that one must be honest or not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men.

    Objection 2. Furthermore, as Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in The_Twilight_of_the_Idols, “when one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands.”

    Objection 3. In addition, the atheist philosopher Richard Rorty wrote, in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, “For liberal ironists, there is no answer to the question ‘Why not be cruel?’ – no noncircular theoretical backup for the belief that cruelty is horrible. … Anyone who thinks that there are well grounded theoretical answers to this sort of question – algorithms for resolving moral dilemmas of this sort – is still, in his heart, a theologian or metaphysician. He believes in an order beyond time and change which both determines the point of human existence and establishes a hierarchy of responsibilities.”

    Objection 4. Also Voltaire did not believe in God but wanted his butler to believe because he thought he would then be robbed less. And Rousseau thought that a nation needed a religion if it was to accept laws and policies directed at the long term future. Without religion, people would insist on immediate gain, to their eventual cost. Clearly, they believed that without religion there would be no morality, save among the Enlightened.

    Objection 5. Also Alex Rosenberg, in “The Disenchanted Naturalists Guide to Reality,” asserts that naturalism denies the existence of objective moral value, of beliefs and desires, of the self, of linguistic meaning, and indeed of meaning or purpose of any sort. All attempts to evade this conclusion, to reconcile naturalism with our common sense understanding of human life, inevitably fail, and we just have to learn to live with that. A belief in meanings and purposes is what puts us on a “slippery slope” to religion.

    On the Contrary, St. Paul writes in Romans 2:11-16, “There is no partiality with God. All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it. For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified. For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law unto themselves… They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.”
    +++
    IOW, thoughtful atheists answer the Quaestio with a “No” and the Christian with a “Yes,” which is a strange and curious position. Rosenberg’s all-encompassing litany of things lacking reality is amusing. One is “linguistic meaning,” which sort of puts the kabosh on his own writings. Nietzsche goes on to criticize the “English flatheads” who think they can keep the Christian morality without keeping the Christianity. (He wants to drop both.) He takes this as evidence that even atheism has been fatally infected with Christian cooties.
    The Respondeo to the Quaestio is here:
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2010/04/de-moralitate-atheorum.html
    But don’t miss Stanley Fish’s comments at the NY Times: “Are There Secular Reasons?”

  38. Elostirion: Could be. I haven’t been to Kmart in over a year, have no intention of going there again, so I guess I missed the sale.

    My perspective on atheists comes from personal contacts, members of my family, the media and the internet. You are probably correct that there are those who are not militant. I just haven’t run across one. Your point about mothers is taken. I did not consider that prospect. One of my relatives is a minister and her father was an atheist. It was kind of tense sometimes, but they managed. Thank you for letting me know there are those who simply go about their lives, be they atheists or theist. 🙂

  39. Similarly, the man who denies God, or says he does, will not rape, murder, and steal, at least, not at rates different (or much different) than other men, unless his disbelief is so strong that he sincerely acts on the conclusion that, without God, there is no universal morality. … Anyway, this man will reason that if nothing matters, whatever he does is without moral consequence. He might do anything.

    A strong disbelief of God doesn’t logically imply a belief of no universal morality. Accepting that killing is universally wrong requires no belief of God (although people may argue that some killings can be justified). Think of atheists in China.

    What does it mean to sincerely act on the conclusion that there is no universal morality? Does it mean to accept other’s culture moral code? A die heart atheist man who believe there is no universal morality doesn’t mean he has no moral values and will reason that nothing matters.

    Well, I guess if nothing matters to a man, the man probably does not care what moral consequences there might be (which is different from saying whatever he does is without moral consequence), and he might just do anything. This claim could be true for both atheists and theists. I don’t know what drives a person to actually believe nothing matters or whether such a person exists, but suicide bombers, who are probably believers, spring to my mind.

    What a strange, fantastical theory of how an Atheist man is or thinks or might think. Not graceful. What motives this post? In-equality!

  40. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 10, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Look at ISIS morality, look at medieval morality.

    Okay. Which one?

    Look at slavery, look at torturing. All considered fully morally acceptable until a few centuries ago.

    You do realize that both were with us since time immemorial, long before any extant religion existed, and the primary effect of at least one religion was to ameliorate their effects and eventually to eliminate them?

    But if as plazeame insists there “there is not such a thing in the world as a absolute or universal morality,” then on what grounds can you claim that slavery and torture are “wrong”? Suppose you can make yourself feel more empowered (die Steigerung des Machtgefühls, as Nietzsche put it in Will to Power #534) by dominating and enslaving lesser humans (assuming you are an Übermensch and so beyond good and evil).

    Or suppose you only want efficiency?
    “And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with . . . those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency? Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go. . . . And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favor the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity — beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds. . . . And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness . . . is death. . . . The men of the New Republic . . . will have an ideal that will make the killing worth the while.”
    — H.G. Wells
    The New Republic

    You decide what an atheist should think, but it is not what atheists actually think.

    More often than not, it is a matter of following the logical entailment of the premises. Nietzsche nailed it. It’s not as JH wonders, that an atheist will necessarily abandon rectitude. Quite the contrary. (See St. Paul, Romans 2, cited above.) But that he no longer has a rational basis for that rectitude. As Rorty plaintively asked, Why not be cruel?

    You decide what morality should be, but it is not what moralities actually are in the world.

    And the QA department decides what the measurements and test results should be to achieve product functionality, but it is not what the results actually are in the manufactured parts, which may vary considerably. There is a difference between setting standards to be achieved and actually achieving them.

    there is not such a thing in the world as a absolute or universal morality.

    More precisely, there is no such thing as absolute and universal agreement. You can jigger your micrometer if you wish, but that doesn’t make a meter not a meter.

    “Morality is independent of whatever humans think.” Of course, cultural evolution is incapable of explaining such miracle – you presume.

    By giving an example of conquest, you appear to endorse the Nietzschean dictum that might makes right. Or heck, what the Athenians told the Melians prior to their unprovoked attack on that small polis: “The strong take what they can, while the weak suffer what they must.”

  41. Plaza wme
    “Moral is whatever behaviour some society defines as moral. By definition of moral.”

    Evolution may explain whatever a society doesn’t like, but what’s this have to do with theistic morality? Your atheist morality is identical to an expression of opinion. Ho hum. The great atheist rejoinder is “No, God isn’t necessary for expressions of opinion to exist”. Notice that this “rejoinder” has NOTHING to do with the theistic view of morality. Zip. Zero.

    When someone says “Hey, you need soap to clean that” it’s silly to think that “No, soap isn’t necessary for expressions of opinions to exit” is an argument that does anything to undermine that.

    Am I wrong?

  42. “When someone says “Hey, you need soap to clean that” it’s silly to think that “No, soap isn’t necessary for expressions of opinions to exit” is an argument that does anything to undermine that.”

    SteveK, though I’m new to the Briggs blog and have a reasonably good educational background I’m trying to sort stuff I find very obtuse, since I’m used to straight-forward thinking & rhetoric. WTF do you mean by the above? No offense & thanks.

  43. Rich
    If you understand the first paragraph then that’s enough. The last paragraph was my feeble attempt to make analogous parallel statements to further the point that the two sides are talking about very different things.

    If it helps, just stick with the first paragraph.

  44. I apologize for entering this discussion late. I try to avoid traveling now but it could not be avoided yesterday and I just now returned to my real computer (not that ridiculous laptop.)

    There is a slightly deeper way to view the analogy between gravity and morality. Briggs points to the quantity G and rightly claims that it is involved in the phenomenon of gravity, but there is a deeper meaning for G (or whatever letter one might choose to use). The quantity G appears in a statement about gravity as a statement of the proportionality between two quantities: the inertial mass of an object and the mass that generates gravitational interaction. What this says is that two ways mass behaves, or two properties mass has, are connected intimately and in fact they are equivalent. First, it (mass) is the proportionality constant that relates acceleration of an object to the force on it. This means that mass is the property of an object that allows us to describe the position, velocity, acceleration, etc. of an object with mass in response to ANY force, be it electrical, mechanical (as in a collisions or fluid mechanics), or gravitational as in, well, gravity. Second, the equivalence statement (or proportionality statement) says that the acceleration on a mass due to interaction with another mass is ALSO proportional to the same mass that quantifies the dynamic response of mass to any force. So the gravity statement m*a = M*m*G/r^2 says that the same mass is responsible for both the dynamic response of objects to forces and the gravitational force exerted on another mass. So the statement of gravity is a statement about the fundamental relation of the local, inertial nature of objects to the more global gravitational force they exert on one another.

    Now this has a charming interpretation in the context of morality. What the gravity relation says is the property that controls the local movements of an object in response to any impetus is intimately related to the fundamental nature of the mass of the object as a source of gravitational force. An analogy to morality would be that whatever it is about humans that controls behavior is in some sense (we consider morality here, whatever that means) directly related to the fundamental nature of the object, i.e. the human nature. This analogy would say that whatever it is that is common among humans is directly related somehow to the dynamics of interaction with humans on a higher plane.

    There is even a more charming application of another approach to gravity that falls in an out of fashion, namely the application of Mach’s principle. In the field theory context, Mach’s principle states that the inertial property of mass, namely its reaction to local forces, even in equations such as the gravity equation, is actually the sum of its interaction with all the rest of the mass of the universe. This would mean that G in the equation would actually be some kind of integral over the universe of the interaction of the local mass with the totality of the universe. Various proposals for incorporating this principle into cosmology have been made over the years. One prediction of such theories is that the values of fundamental constants, such as G, should change over cosmological time. So far most have been proven wrong by experiments, but the question is still open.

    However, the analogy between a Mach’s principle interpretation of gravity would give an even more charming analogy to man and morality. The analogy would be that human actions (i.e. our responses to moral challenges) would be directly related to our direct interaction with the totality of the universe (which some might call God). This would be a pleasant way to view the relation between our personal choices and something larger than ourselves.

    How to apply these different perspectives to arguments for or against atheism or

  45. Sorry, several words were chopped off my last post. The last sentence should read:
    How to apply these different perspectives to arguments for or against atheism or theism I leave to others, but there are several possible analogies from the notion of gravity.

  46. “Evolution may explain whatever a society doesn’t like, but what’s this have to do with theistic morality? Your atheist morality is identical to an expression of opinion. Ho hum. The great atheist rejoinder is “No, God isn’t necessary for expressions of opinion to exist”. Notice that this “rejoinder” has NOTHING to do with the theistic view of morality. Zip. Zero.”

    Hi Steve,
    Please forgive me, but this paragraph (which I believe you were referring me to) is as confusing as the final. In particular, how are you defining the difference between theist and atheist (i.e., pretensions of) morality? Can the latter co-exist, INYOP? There’s nothing like straight-talk. Full disclosure, I am a theist, yet your views seem tangential to the convictions I have, or am i missing something?

  47. Rich
    Christian morality requires God as the foundation. The claim by atheists is that evolution can explain morality without God. Since they are not explaining the same thing (obviously) they cannot be explaining the same thing with evolution.

    They are explaining human cultures opinions and preferences whereas Christians are not.

  48. SteveK (@9:32 PM)

    Your atheist morality is identical to an expression of opinion. Ho hum. The great atheist rejoinder is “No, God isn’t necessary for expressions of opinion to exist”. Notice that this “rejoinder” has NOTHING to do with the theistic view of morality. Zip. Zero.

    No, sorry SteveK. ANY working morality in the world is quite the contrary to the expression of an opinion. If morality (mos mores) is the custom, what has to be done, this is the exact opposite to an opinion; it’s an order, a command.

    Yes, I know we Christians have some mixing up between two very different things we call “morality”. Lets be fast and call them “external” and “internal” morality. You can certainly compare an “internal” morality to an opinion. But neither God, nor Briggs, nor me are using morality in an “internal” sense. Is somtheing you inherit (from God or from society), and individual opinions are completely irrelevant.

    When someone says “Hey, you need soap to clean that” it’s silly to think that “No, soap isn’t necessary for expressions of opinions to exit” is an argument that does anything to undermine that.

    Am I wrong?

    I would say so. Same problem. Change individual opinion to societal opinion. You need a society to have societal opinions; you don’t need gods (although they are a fantasy which may help to impose societal opinions).

    I think this is the problem theists have. They are too used to societal opinions imposed by gods, and they have forgotten all the cases where there is no God involved (or they try not to look at it). But looking at the dynamics of morality on societies the perspective changes.

  49. Well, since Briggs has so clarified his position, let me remind you all that Morality is also made-up complete $ull$hit for dummies. Now, we can parse the word, morality, all night, but in this context, it is just more of your silly backwards sloppy barroom fascism. 6 million Jews, murdered by people some of whom still alive today, are evidence of the great Morality of Christianity.

    What a joke.

    JMJ

  50. Ye Olde Statistician (@8:42 PM)

    But if as plazeame insists there “there is not such a thing in the world as a absolute or universal morality,” then on what grounds can you claim that slavery and torture are “wrong”?

    On the grounds of the society you actually live in. Whith slavery it would be a different society — lets say less “evolutioned”. (Less complex, whatever). The same thing works for torture. A society which sees torture as sin is different than the society where torture is an accepted tool. And it is different even if there actually is some torture being used. If people think torture is evil, you may not get no torture, but you will get less torture. That’s a different society.

  51. Ye Olde Statistician (@8:42 PM)

    Or suppose you only want efficiency?

    I do not “want” anything. I try to observe and undesrtand how things work.

    More often than not, it is a matter of following the logical entailment of the premises. Nietzsche nailed it. It’s not as JH wonders, that an atheist will necessarily abandon rectitude. Quite the contrary. (See St. Paul, Romans 2, cited above.) But that he no longer has a rational basis for that rectitude. As Rorty plaintively asked, Why not be cruel?

    The logical entailment of the premises con only get you so far with a complex reality. But it can get you very far in the world of fantasy. The fact is we know a huge amount of “basis for rectitude”, all different, and none rational.

    Look at the most basic *moral* command. You shall drive in the right hand side of the road. It’s irrelevant the right or the left hand side, but you need everybody believing in the same hand side.

    Is “rational” the command not to be cruel? You can rationalise it. Or you can observe how it works, what different societies you get with and without such a command, and you choose. But, if you choose a morality which weakens your society compared with other competing society, your society will probably disappear. And your society will be very “rational” (if you want to to think so), but will be non-existent in the near future.

    This may not be “rational”. It is “factual”.

  52. Lets try to clean the discussion.

    I am not claiming atheists are right. I am not claiming God doesn’t exist (I just don’t have any reason to think so). I am claiming atheists don’t have any problem with morality whatsoever. And, I am claiming the idea of an absolute morality has a load of problems with reality. It’s a very nice fantasy (I do really like it), but it is a fantasy nonetheless.

    A good way to see the dynamics of morality is looking at the moment of a “moralization”. When something which was not moral becomes moral. In such cases you always observe a huge amount of “violence”. It is “the violence of morality”. That is because morality, by its very function, aspires to be for everybody.

    So, be very careful with morality. It is a necessary tool for ANY society — it wouldn’t exist without a morality. But it is also a tool which may became very dangerous. Because of its unavoidable violence, and because it may change the performance of a society.

  53. And a possible ending.

    The atheist is not different to the physicist.

    – He’ll say … “True. But there is society, therefore there is morality. Now let’s watch the Tigers on TV.”

    The (inexistent) problem is solved.

  54. “6 million Jews, murdered by people some of whom still alive today, are evidence of the great Morality of Christianity.”

    Meanwhile the Commies have gotten a death toll well within the ballpark of the Nazis while being card-carrying atheists.

  55. Meanwhile the Commies have gotten a death toll well within the ballpark of the Nazis while being card-carrying atheists.

    Very true. However nobody is claiming atheists have a better morality. In fact, I think in many (but not all) cases is worse. The proposition is that the in-existent Absolute and Universal Briggs Morality of theists would not necessarily be better than the actually existent morality, which is explained by cultural evolution.

  56. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 8:48 am

    on what grounds can you claim that slavery and torture are “wrong”?
    On the grounds of the society you actually live in.

    So if you lived in a society like the Soviet Union or Ancient Athens you would be okay with those things?

  57. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Look at the most basic *moral* command. You shall drive in the right hand side of the road.

    That’s not a moral command.

    I am claiming the idea of an absolute morality has a load of problems with reality.

    Do you not believe in an absolute and universal human nature? Or do you think it depends on things like skin color, ethnicity, sex, etc.?

  58. I agree ,

    ‘ Not so with the atheist. Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is—and there will weeping’,

    I laughed till I cried.

  59. Ye Olde Statistician (@ 8:48 AM)

    So if you lived in a society like the Soviet Union or Ancient Athens you would be okay with those things?

    I cannot know. Nor do you. Looking from other space and other morality (programming), and not knowing what knowledge you had to compare, and not knowing whether you were a privileged or an oppressed, etc, it is impossible to know how would you feel.

    But it is a wrong question. We said we were talking about “external morality”, and that individual opinions are irrelevant. I didn’t say everybody agrees all the time with his society’s morality. In such case moralities wouldn’t change, and they do.

    Personal note: I am not okay with “the things” of my society’s morality, but it doesn’t follow God told me otherwise. I do have non-God inputs. And if you tell me your inputs are God, I will think you are fooling yourself.

  60. Ye Olde Statistician (@8:55 AM)

    That’s not a moral command.

    It depends on your definition of moral. I defined: what you expect from others and others expect from you. But it doesn’t matter. It is supposed to help your understanding. Just look for a functionally similar case in your definition.

    Do you not believe in an absolute and universal human nature? Or do you think it depends on things like skin color, ethnicity, sex, etc.?

    I do think there is a human nature, a chimp nature, etc. Saying a universal chimp nature doesn’t add a bit to the meaning, so you can save it. And, I do think a huge variability is a characteristic or human nature. It depends on quite many more things than those you listed. Morality is one of them.

    Mind you, I do realize there are some “moral commands” which are nearly universal. That marriage is something between two sexes is one of them. It doesn’t need to come from human nature, but it probably comes from human society nature. As we are doing an experiment, we will probably know.

  61. Plazaeme
    “If morality (mos mores) is the custom, what has to be done, this is the exact opposite to an opinion; it’s an order, a command.”

    Evolution produces obligations? You’ll need to explain this.

  62. SteveK (@10:42 AM)

    Evolution produces obligations? You’ll need to explain this.

    Easy. Evolution does not produce obligations. Society produces obligations. Different obligations (solutions) produce different societies. Some are more apt, some are weaker. The obligations (solutions) of the weaker tend to disappear with their societies.

    At the same time, bigger societies (more obligations) are possibly selecting more “domesticated” people, but this is a different question. Think of wolves and dogs.

    Possible reading:

    https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Our-Success-Evolution-Domesticating/dp/0691166854

  63. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Morality is also made-up complete $ull$hit for dummies.

    Sure, dummies like Plato or Aristotle (http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html).
    Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis
    exponebantur ad necem.

    it is just more of your silly backwards sloppy barroom fascism.

    But fascism was simply that variety of socialism that resolved the Darwinian class struggle through the emergence of a Leader who would embody the aspirations of the people in his own person and unite the classes for the good of the nation. Unruly and irrational capitalism would be regulated by boards or syndicates that would allocate market shares, regions, and rules. This has little to do with morality per se.

    6 million Jews, murdered by people some of whom still alive today, are evidence of the great Morality of Christianity.

    Don’t see how. There was a reason why the program was concealed from the German people. It was National Socialism that drove the program, and the NatSocs were virulently anti-Christian, if not always openly so. (We have their records.) They were informed by race and a crypto-Darwinism rather than by religion. The Leader ridiculed the suggestion of von Schoenerer and others that the Jewish Problem was religious because if it were, a sprinkle of holy water would solve it. In their view, it was racial/genetic.

    Since then, the Milgram Obedience Study and the Stanford Prison Experiment showed that perfectly ordinary people could behave wretchedly under an authority figure or in a dehumanizing situation. (Thus does modern science confirm Christian doctrine regarding fallen human nature: “There but for the grace of God go I.”)

  64. Ye Olde Statistician (@11:26 AM)

    Since then, the Milgram Obedience Study and the Stanford Prison Experiment showed that perfectly ordinary people could behave wretchedly under an authority figure or in a dehumanizing situation. (Thus does modern science confirm Christian doctrine regarding fallen human nature: “There but for the grace of God go I.”)

    Nope. These experiments only confirm the plasticity of humans. If you define “fallen human nature” as something contrary to what you believe Absolute Universal Briggs Morality says, then it is a circular argument if you state only God (or Briggs) can inform you about the true morality.

  65. Plazaeme
    WHAT is society obligating people to specifically?

  66. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I do have non-God inputs. And if you tell me your inputs are God, I will think you are fooling yourself.

    Jawohl, mein Herr. (“Inputs”, forsooth.)

    [Driving on the right-hand side of the road] not a moral command.

    It depends on your definition of moral.

    And that depends on whether you are allowed to jigger with definitions to suit yourself. But when discussing morality it might be well to use the definition of those to whom you are objecting.

    I defined: what you expect from others and others expect from you.

    That’s absurd. We expect and are expected a great many things that have little or no moral dimension. There are even bad things that carry no moral weight. One may be a bad scientist without being a bad person; chocolate may be bad for you without its eating being sinful. It may be you are confusing custom with morality. But as Augustine once pointed out, while at one time no well-bred man would be seen in public in a dalmatic rather than a toga, by his time the dalmatic had become the common dress of the gentleman (On Christian doctrine, III.12.20)

    Do you not believe in an absolute and universal human nature?
    I do think there is a human nature

    Then if morality consists of those habits of mind that complete and perfect human nature, there must be one morality.

    And, I do think a huge variability is a characteristic or human nature. It depends on quite many more things than those you listed. Morality is one of them.

    Human nature does not depend on morality; morality depends on human nature. And if it is “variable,” it is not human nature. In fact, while ethics may vary, morality does not. Men everywhere say it is right for a man “to reverence his parents; to care and provide for his children; to be master of his lower appetites; to be honest and just in his dealings, even to his own damage; to show benevolence to his fellows in time of distress; to bear pain and misfortune with fortitude.” How these moral dictates are employed in particular situations will be variable. The Eskimos reverenced their parents by setting them adrift when the infirmities of old age appeared.

    But as men are prone to estimate sins, not by reference to their inherent sinfulness, but rather by reference to their own customs, it frequently happens that a man will think nothing blameable except what the men of his own country and time are accustomed to condemn, and nothing worthy of praise or approval except what is sanctioned by the custom of his companions…
    Augustine, On Chrisitian doctrine, III.10.15

    But when men unacquainted with other modes of life than their own meet with the record of such actions, unless they are restrained by authority, they look upon them as sins, and do not consider that their own customs either in regard to marriage, or feasts, or dress, or the other necessities and adornments of human life, appear sinful to the people of other nations and other times. And, distracted by this endless variety of customs, some who were half asleep (as I may say)— that is, who were neither sunk in the deep sleep of folly, nor were able to awake into the light of wisdom— have thought that there was no such thing as absolute right, but that every nation took its own custom for right; and that, since every nation has a different custom, and right must remain unchangeable, it becomes manifest that there is no such thing as right at all. Such men did not perceive, to take only one example, that the precept, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” cannot be altered by any diversity of national customs. And this precept, when it is referred to the love of God, destroys all vices when to the love of one’s neighbor, puts an end to all crimes.
    ibid. III.14.22

  67. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    If you define “fallen human nature” as something contrary to what you believe Absolute Universal Briggs Morality says…

    Good thing I don’t, then.

  68. SteveK (@12:15 PM)

    Sorry, Steve, I thought I was being clear. Let’s try again.

    WHAT is society obligating people to specifically?

    A lone individual is free by definition. Nobody is telling him to do this, to do that … because there is nobody around!

    If you have two individuals some obligations appear. For one of them or for both. As in:

    – don’t wake me up at night, or I’ll get angry.

    A loose and small society produces more obligations. The bigger and more complex (think of protocols) a society is, the more obligations you will see. Why? Because it wouldn’t be a society otherwise; it would be a number of lone and independent individuals in the same place. It is not; you never observe such a case. Human nature.

    So, if you have society you have obligations. What obligations? Or, as you say …-

    WHAT is society obligating people to specifically?

    It depends pretty much on what society. They are different, and the difference depends greatly on different obligations. But, there are some more or less universal obligations. You can think in many examples. For instance:

    – Don’t eat your neighbor’s baby.

    An obligation. Very universal. Chimps have it too.

    – Believe our morality is the Absolute Universal Briggs Morality.

    An obligation. Nearly universal – until recently. Chimps don’t have it.

    – Burn the old female widows.

    An obligation. Not universal at all.

    Etc.

  69. Like I said at the start, you are not explaining the same thing, but without God.

  70. Ye Olde Statistician (@12:41 PM)

    Thank you. I think you demonstrate my point. The circularity of your argument is overwhelming. You didn’t provide any definition of morality – as far as I remember. I don’t deny you can fabricate a definition to suit your needs. But if you bring a definition by which it follows God is involved, then God is involved. Sure, I agree. This is circularity.

    But you cannot expect it to be a problem whatsoever for atheists. They will just laugh at your definition, and will carry on with their understanding of morality. With no practical or functional difference you can show. I repeat: With no practical or functional difference you can show. Can you show it?

    My definition is purely an observation. And it is not heterodox at all.

    Oxford dictionary, moral:

    Concerned with or derived from the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society.

    The “code of behavior” (of a particular society) is exactly “what you expect from others and others expect from you”.

    You want to fool yourself with an extravagant definition of morality which rounds your circle? Be my guest. I will not even dare to say you are wrong. I don’t care unless you tell me what to do. But you cannot expect others to be concerned by your gymnastics. Much less worrying or crying.

    Simplifying. What does a morality do – what is its function? Show me your AUBM has a different function than the moralities which actually exist in the world. Or show me it does it better. With examples, not with fantasies. Unless you are able to show it, you cannot know atheists have a problem (or any difference) with morality.

  71. SteveK (@ 1:02 PM)

    Like I said at the start, you are not explaining the same thing, but without God.

    I am not sure I get what you mean. I don’t know what is “the same thing”. I am explaining the most common meaning of morality, and its dynamics and origin.

    Oxford Dictionary, morality:

    A particular system of values and principles of conduct

    If you mean I am not explining AUBM, you are right. I cannot be expected to explain other’s fantasies. I am explaining, though, atheists do not have any problem with morality.

    Prediction: You can observe from the outside the behavior of humans in some different human societies, without being able to tell which ones have a God, or many, or none. Does this explain the same thing?

  72. “Yet every time a theist makes the obvious true point that if there were no God, there could be no absolute morality, no universal right and no universal wrong, the atheist believes, or pretends to believe, he has been insulted. He therefore cries: genuine waterworks if he could not follow the counterfactual, crocodile tears if he could. He takes it personally, or claims to.”
    No ‘he’ doesn’t, no they don’t!!!

    Briggs, knows, if he gives the matter a little thought, that everybody hates to be insulted. (Since he’s not here we can talk about him.)

    What bugs me most is that the followers in the playground who don’t have a thought of their own copy the language and the rest of us have to mop up. Those with the bat and ball should be more responsible, they know who they are!

    Lucia once said (after Luis and myself spent too long rowing about God and after which I learned much from what Luis said and even though he did make me cry, not an easy thing for a stranger to do.)

    ” I don’t know why people spend their time arguing about this. It’s a waste of time..” or words to that effect, I paraphrased) She has a point but it is a very interesting thing to discuss as long as the debate is honest and well intended. I don’t believe that it always is . From the Theist side. It’s sad to read people arguing for your own side and feeling ashamed of their conduct. Like having a jinx on board. Throw the phoneys over the side I say and show them no mercy. I have patience with people who don’t believe in God. but find it impossible to muster the same time for people who claim faith and carry on like their actions and words don’t matter.

    JH,
    With regards to your questioning the idea that nobody lives as though nothing matters; whether anything really matters if there is no God. Obviously most people liv as though life matters but if you think about it a little deeper, there can be no argument that things really matter without God because the universe is a cold mechanical empty place without right or wrong. Like Dawkins describes. Even he says that he tries to do the best he can and behave for the good of others. His argument falls flat though. Without God nothing does matter and our lives, families, villages, cities, art, scientific discovery, beauty; all a waste of time, nothing worth even a note. In the grand scheme of things, which is not a scheme at all, it amounts to nothing. It is this reality or logical truth given the atheist premise with which many people grapple and cannot simply set aside and for some is haunting.
    It is a potentially dangerous way to think and depending upon the individual will inevitably result in behaviour that is informed by the thought. The behaviour is likely to be destructive to others or individuals.

    Furthermore there is the effect of future generations who grow up believing there are no consequences. As long as you don’t get caught, that is. We can’t catch everybody doing wrong and there’s less and less inclination, it seems, to even bother as less and less actions become considered wrong.

    So there is an effect on the individual and the effect of living with others who have been influenced by this belief in no consequences, i.e. a lack of conscience. Selfishness is primitive, selfless acts require deeper thought.

    I’ve said this before but if you listen to Dawkins talking to reasonable people, you hear very reasonable responses. He has tailored and tempered some of his speech and my guess is he deep down despite what he says, is a little envious of people who do truly believe. I am no mind reader, nor is anyone but I’m willing to bet he’s like the rest of us.

    Just to be repetitive since that’s the trend at the mo,
    One of the greatest poets Thomas Hardy, an architect interested in all the kinds of things often discussed here,
    longed to keep his faith but had an intellectual inability to do so. I believe that’s good enough.

    The Darkling Thrush really captures the thoughts and feelings of somebody questioning what it’s all about. All deep thinkers have feelings when they think. Only robots or the dryest or faking intellectuals think emotion is dirty. Everything in it’s place! and if the meaning of the universe allows no space for emotion about the facts then in circular fashion thought leads back to the cold dark mechanical place.

    Are people who set out to make atheists cry really looking for a reason to cry? I am going to call it crying vicariously, or lacrimosa by proxy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1-TrAvp_xs

    The Darkling Thrush:
    I leaned upon a coppice gate when frost was spectre grey,
    and winters dregs made desolate the weakening eye of day.
    The tangled binestems scored the sky like strings of broken lyres
    and all mankind that haunted nigh had sought their household fires.

    The Land’s sharp features seemed to be
    the century’s corpse outleant.
    TheCrypt it’s cloudy canopy , the wind it’s death lament.
    The ancient pulse of germ and birth had shrunken hard and dry
    and every spirit upon earth seemed ferverless, as I.

    At once a voice arose among the bleak twigs overhead,
    In a full hearted evensong of joy ilimited,,
    an aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small in blast-beruffled plume,
    had chosen thus to fling his soul upon the growing gloom.

    So little cause for carolling of such ecstatic sound
    were written on terrestrial things afar or nigh around,
    that I should think there trembled through his happy goodnight air,
    some blessed hope, whereof he knew,
    and I was unaware.

    Keats wrote “ode to a Nightingale” which has similar theme, dealing with death eternity and uncertainty.
    Interesting that they both were inspired to write by observing birds, tiny little ones.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHIUo00VihM

    and for souls that need soothing . Watching this conductor is positively therapeutic too.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzUMfVpugq4

  73. “With no practical or functional difference you can show. I repeat: With no practical or functional difference you can show. Can you show it?”

    I can show that a society admits it has obligating itself to immoral ends/means. That’s an admission that a society thinks it does not ground morality. So what does?

  74. @plazaeme:

    “With no practical or functional difference you can show. I repeat: With no practical or functional difference you can show. Can you show it?”

    Since YOS is a Catholic and as you say, there is no practical or functional difference, therefore it means that as far as moral and ethics, yours are the same as that of Catholics. So you are against abortion and divorce, view homossexual acts as sinful, etc. Great, just goes to show you do have some sense in that head, in spite of all the sillyness you write.

    “You want to fool yourself with an extravagant definition of morality which rounds your circle? Be my guest. I will not even dare to say you are wrong. I don’t care unless you tell me what to do. But you cannot expect others to be concerned by your gymnastics. Much less worrying or crying.”

    It is neither extravagant by any measure whatsoever, since it has been the classical normative concept of a large part of western philosophical history. Neither it is circular; you simply claim this, but there is not a single argument from you actually *showing* it.

  75. SteveK (@ 2:35 PM)

    I can show that a society admits it has obligating itself to immoral ends/means. That’s an admission that a society thinks it does not ground morality. So what does?

    Do show me. It is a very strange situation. But I don’t think it matters. It doesn’t matter what a society thinks are the grounds of its morality. Usually they think in God or some very cool miracle. Briggs seems to think that too – at least for AUBM. But it doesn’t make it true.

    But show me please. You may have found something interesting.

  76. G. Rodrigues (@ 2:47 PM)

    Dear Rodrigues. Glad to see you again.

    You are confusing the function of morality with particular precepts of moralities. I did not ask YOS to show the same moral commands in a society with and without God. Would be rather peculiar:

    Thou shalt not believe in false gods

    There you have. Different moral commands. But not a different function. You will never understand because you don’t care about morality’s function. You don’t understand morality.

    Of course, being a catholic atheist, my “internal moral believes” (my preferences) are closer to catholic theists than that of -for example- islamic theists. God has nothing to do with it; I have being programmed as anyone else. No, I am not against abortion and divorce, nor do I view homossexual acts as sinful. I have had a “catholic programming”, but it wasn’t my only programming. My society is not “only catholic programmed”.

    Again, you are confusing morality’s function. To tell you what behavior to expect from others, and what behaviour others expect from you. It is irrelevant what behaviour I find (internally) more moral — as far as I comply or accept the consequences. The function of moral is to know what happens with A or B behaviour.

    The function of morality is not someone believing in God (that’s irrelevant by itself), but the society getting the effects of its members believing in God. And that was my prediction about. You cannot tell today which society believes in god by observing only the behavior of its members. Can you? If you can’t, you have a believe in something not observable. And your believe cannot be a problem for any atheist. At all.

    Of course, believing in fantasies is a great social tool. Societies bloom with fantasies. But fantasies change.

    Definitions:
    It is neither extravagant by any measure whatsoever, since it has been the classical normative concept of a large part of western philosophical history.

    1. What is your definition?

    2. During that “large part of western philosophical history” they didn’t have a clue on the function of morality. They couldn’t. The knowledge needed wasn’t available. Logic is not knowledge, is a tool. You need some reality to use the tool to some benefit.

    Neither it is circular; you simply claim this, but there is not a single argument from you actually *showing* it.

    Show me your definition so we can see whether it is circular or not. What is AUBM’s definition?

    So, two points.

    1. How can you tell the difference between a God okay society and a God not-okay society by only looking at the behavior of its members? (Behaviours, not believes).

    2. What is the definition of your universal moral?

  77. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    But if you bring a definition by which it follows God is involved…

    Good thing I have not done so. Aristotle actually had several gods, although he did seem to recognize a God that underlay them. But morality stemmed from the completion and perfection of human nature, not from the dictates of any gods.

    atheists. They will just laugh at your definition, and will carry on with their understanding of morality.

    Which, as Nietzsche pointed out, was to follow Christian morality without the Christ. The answers were, in a manner of speaking, already in the back of the book and, having these answers to hand, felt no need to ask the questions. Stanley Fish gives a good account of this in his NYT column, “Are There Secular Reasons?”
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/are-there-secular-reasons/?_r=0

    Of course without a calibration department, standards have been slipping. See road rage, mass shootings, etc. We seem to be resorting to ancient methods of conflict resolution, but with post-modern weaponry.

  78. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    believing in fantasies is a great social tool.

    Such as the belief that one has been programmed.

    Put us in touch with your programmer, why don’t you.

  79. YOS.

    Good thing I have not done so.

    No you haven’t. I can only speculate about your definition of a universal morality. Will you be so kind to provide one?

  80. YOS.

    Such as the belief that one has been programmed.

    Put us in touch with your programmer, why don’t you.

    Yea, I can introduce you to my parents, teachers, buddies in my childhood and teenage, books, films, songs, etc. You pay the plane, and you can stay at home. OK?

    You really think you came out as you are from only genes and God?

  81. Programmed by society to believe that matter in motion has the ability to program matter in motion.

  82. “It doesn’t matter what a society thinks are the grounds of its morality.”

    True. It only matters what actually does ground it. I mentioned this only because you said that “My definition is purely an observation”.

    Observation shows most people disagree with your definition so what exactly are YOU observing? Show me.

    “Do show me.”

    See my above statement about observations.

    The way I understand your view is society can do evil if it fails to fulfill the obligations of society, or good if it succeeds. History records both but the following example present a twist that you’ll have to explain to me.

    Society has obligated slaves to be slaves, and society succeeded. Would this be an example of a society being morality good according to what society obligates?

  83. Programmed by society to believe that matter in motion has the ability to program matter in motion.

    You don’t believe in genes? But you apparently think I *have to* believe in AUBM. Seriously? It is very surprising, thank you. Atheists are worring and crying more and more as the thread advances.

    Well, you are not quite right. I have been programmed in many believes. Sometimes the programming was succesfull, sometimes not. And it wasn’t unusual to receive a programming and an anti-programming for the same believe (society is a very complex beast). But Evolution was not one of the items on my programming. I decided by myself being relatively “clean”. Well, “by myself” … as far as it goes.

  84. swordfishtrombone

    August 11, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Is this absolute moral code you refer to the Catholic absolute moral code or the Protestant absolute moral code or the Islamic absolute moral code or … (You get the idea.)

  85. SteveK (@5:05 PM)

    No, sorry, Steve. You said:

    – I can show that a society admits it has obligating itself to immoral ends/means.

    Either you show us, or (we will think) you can’t show it.

    Observation shows most people disagree with your definition so what exactly are YOU observing? Show me.

    I told you. My observation is: moral is concerned with or derived from the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society.

    Being Oxford’s Dictionary definition I doubt your observation that most people desagree with it. But it doesn´t really matter. Most people don’t observe morality as a passtime. I do.

    The way I understand your view is society can do evil if it fails to fulfill the obligations of society, or good if it succeeds.

    No, this is not at all my view. I don’t know how could anyone have an idea of wrong and good without a society. Say … as a Robinson Crusoe raised by a chimp in an island. A society can do wrong by the point of view of other society. But, which of both societal points of views is “wrong”? Dunno. It may have the effect of the disapearence of a society, but, is this “wrong”? Couldn’t tell you why from outside both societies. Societies dissapear all the time; is part of the game. Imagine ISIS dissapears. Is it bad?

    Society has obligated slaves to be slaves, and society succeeded. Would this be an example of a society being morality good according to what society obligates?

    This has nothing to do with your previous proposition.

    I can show that a society admits it has obligating itself to immoral ends/means.

  86. Is this absolute moral code …

    We have name it the Absolute Universal Briggs Morality (AUBM). Now we only lack a definition, but we expect it tonight. Be patient.

  87. I’m bowing out

  88. JMJ: Still living in that fantasy world and trying to convince everyone you’re the one in reality, I see. It’s easy when you make things up in your head and ignore all evidence that you’re wrong. It’s so simple when you never learn and never evolve.

  89. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    You really think you came out as you are from only genes

    No, but it’s interesting that you think of child-rearing and education as “programming.”

    Or for that matter, that you think of the Good as being what you were educated into rather than a standard toward which your educated behaviors might achieve or fall short. Do you really think that if everyone in society was taught and firmly believed that it was right to swindle old widows of their money that it would be right?

    Most people who hold that there is no absolute morality usually mean that they want to lay many women and not feel guilty. They don’t seem to realize that the same slack applies to strictures they do agree with.

    You don’t believe in genes?

    Genes are not programming. cf. phenotype plasticity.
    ++++

    The nature of man is to be a rational animal. Moral behavior is therefore what completes and perfects this nature. This is two-fold: the animal and the rational. Hence, mens sana in corpore sano. (Notice that sane and healthy are the same word in Latin.) Perfecting both requires exercise to build up strengths. Both require the priority of the intellect over the will (let alone over the sensory appetites!) There’s that “rational” thingie again: It’s impossible to want what you do not know. But in the age of the Triumph of the Will, this point needs to be reiterated. Many of the shortcomings of today are due to giving the will priority over the intellect.

    Each person judges his own desires to be good, even when this contradicts the universal judgement of reason. I would like to eat whatever I want and not get fat; but reason tells me I cannot. Reason tells me that for a healthy body, I should eat this and not that, and this much but not that much. We recognize the moral dimension of this when we say “Eating that will be bad for you.” On the other hand, someone who wants to eat can rationalize pigging out. So intemperance eventually becomes habituated. The irony is that the Triumph of the Will leads to a lack of will power, and “freedom” results in enslavement to the passions.

    Now physical virtue (virtus=”strength”) is not usually thought of as morality in the ethical sense, so turn to the “rational” part of human nature. What is involved in its perfections?

    Since the rational powers are two — intellect and volition — their perfections fall into two groups: the intellective strengths and the volitional strengths. You must know the Good and you must desire/do the Good.

    Plato’s synderesis does not mean that every whim or passing desire is moral. The conscience must be formed by good habits, just as on the physical side an athlete forms good habits of exercise that predispose her toward making her vaults and tumbles. Good habits [virtues] are those which dispose us to perform acts consistent with our nature. Bad habits [vices] dispose us to perform acts not consistent with our nature. When we are clear what acts are consistent with our nature, we will be clear what constitutes good and bad. This is not as easy as just doing what you are told by your Obergruppenfuehrer or your buddies in the dorm. You have to learn to think.

    Every voluntary act is two acts.
    1. An interior act of the will whose object is the end; and
    2. the exterior act whose object is the means.

    The first is the formal cause while the second is the material cause of the act. Thus, materially, I might reach out and grab a baseball bat. Formally, I may intend to hit a home run or (more modestly) a base hit. Or I might pick it up with the formal intention of making some of those English flatheads flatter. Picking up the bat is the means to those ends and is good or bad only with respect to the end toward which it is employed. It is in the end that the morality lies.

    Now, the nature of man being a rational animal, what is good is what is in accordance with reason, which makes moral virtue inseparable from intellectual virtue. Intellectual and moral virtue are not the same, nor can one be reduced to the other. The intellectual virtues are habits of intellect and the moral virtues are habits of appetite or will.

    A. The intellectual virtues.
    1. Understanding
    is the habit of principles;
    2. Knowledge is the habit of proximate causes;
    3. Wisdom is the habit of ultimate causes.

    The root of this triad is understanding, since without a firm grasp of principles, neither science nor wisdom is possible. Wisdom judges both understanding and its principles and also knowledge and its conclusions.

    But it is not enough to think well, we must also act well; that is, act according to reason and not blind impulse or passion. The principle here is not the intellect, but the will, more specifically the end the will seeks. There must be a fourth intellectual virtue
    4. Prudence, which puts reason into a state to determine the means to that end. After all, if your dog has fleas, throwing the dog into the furnace is an effective means to get rid of the fleas, but prudence cautions us not to choose it.

    As prudence is the culmination of the intellectual virtues, so is she the root of the moral ones:
    B. The moral virtues.
    1. Justice
    regulates our acts independently of our dispositions as regards what is due or not due to another. These dispositions lead to the other two moral virtues:
    2. Temperance is what we call upon if we are drawn by passion toward an act contrary to reason.
    3. Courage is what we must call upon if we are impeded by fear or sloth from acting as reason says we ought.

    The moral virtues perfect the will just as the intellectual virtues perfect the intellect. No one is blameworthy for being a bad scientist or a bad artist; but very much so for being an extortioner, a drunkard, or a coward. So moral behavior lies primarily in the exercise of prudence, justice, temperance, and courage.

    It has become de mode to confuse the appetites with the intellect, to confuse what we want with what is good. This is why so many people today feel that morality is a “personal” matter and that there can be no objective morality. But to indulge the appetites rather than the intellect requires that we reject temperance. And to throw temperance under the bus, we must first discard prudence, and prudence is the coupling between the intellect and the will.

    Thus intemperance severs the linkage between what we want and what we know and this makes us less human; i.e., less of a rational animal. Cf.:
    https://webapps.pni.princeton.edu/ncc/PDFs/Neural%20Economics/Cohen%20(JEP%2005).pdf

    Nothing prevents an atheist from reasoning in this way. This was Paul’s point while dealing with the Greeks. However, certain predispositions of post-modern atheism are subversive of the rationalist approach. That is because in the meantime, we have gone through the Triumph of the Will. This stifles cool, measured reflection on the moral for hot, committed activism. Instead of saying “I think we ought to…,” we now say “I feel we ought to…”

  90. Oh my goodness! YOS.

    Do you really think that if everyone in society was taught and firmly believed that it was right to swindle old widows of their money that it would be right?

    We are talking past each other.

    – If … moral is the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society (Oxfrd D)

    – And if … everyone in a society believes X is a right behaviour

    – Then … X is a moral behaviour in this society

    It would NOT be right for me, but I am not a member of this morality.

    As you do not provide a definition of AUBM, I cannot know what the hell are you talking about. But there you have an obvious answer fo quite a common definition of morality. I have to imagine your definition and I can only guess whether it makes any sense or what its answer to the question would be.

    Most people who hold that there is no absolute morality usually mean that they want to lay many women and not feel guilty. They don’t seem to realize that the same slack applies to strictures they do agree with.

    So, what? AUBM says you can’t lay many women? How would they know if you don’t tell us what the hell is AUBM? Gypsies believe they should not lay many woman. Is AUBM the morality of Gypsies? Great, because they believe in theft.

    Genes are not programming. cf. phenotype plasticity.

    Let’s try not to be very hard on you. We’ll pass this one. 😉

    The nature of man is to be a rational animal.

    I can’t keep reading. Whatever you think about human nature, men are not rational most of the time. So your proposition is observable bullshit. Perfect nonsense. I stop at this point. I am tired of your mental gymnastics based on smoke.

    Make it simple. The two points.

    1. How can you tell the difference between a God okay society and a God not-okay society by only looking at the behavior of its members? (Behaviours, not believes).

    Note: If you can’t, your AUBM does not have an observable effect. In this case:

    1.1 Why do you think atheists should worry about a non observable fantasy? (If it is non observable it is a fantasy – an idea with no basis in reality).

    2. What is the definition of your universal moral?

    That’s all the problem we have. Very simple.

  91. @plazaeme:

    “You are confusing the function of morality with particular precepts of moralities.”

    I am not confusing anything. You said and I quote (emphasis mine): “With no *practical* or *functional* difference you can show. I *repeat*: With no *practical* or *functional* difference you can show. Can you show it?” It is quite clear what you meant by “practical or functional difference”.

    “Of course, believing in fantasies is a great social tool. Societies bloom with fantasies. But fantasies change.”

    Yes, your beliefs are dreary, dull, stupid fantasies. We can agree on that.

    “During that “large part of western philosophical history” they didn’t have a clue on the function of morality. They couldn’t. The knowledge needed wasn’t available.”

    So first it was the “definition of morality” that was “extravagant”. Now it was not merely “extravagant”, but our forefathers “didn’t have a clue” about the “function of morality”. The “function of morality”, a modern discovery! Along with M&Ms and Pokemons!

    “Show me your definition so we can see whether it is circular or not. ”

    It seemed to me that you were claiming that the conception of morality as Mr. Briggs and YOS used it, was circular, But since now you are asking me for a definition, I must have misread you.

  92. Somebody tell me what warrants not just avoiding Blacks, non-White Hispanics, and Muslims, but pushing for their depopulation. Considering their violent crime levels, IQ scores, usage of government programs accounting for population, and hordes of Blacks rioting over court cases not going their way.

    Absent of God, of course.

  93. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 11, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    – Do you really think that if everyone in society was taught and firmly believed that it was right to swindle old widows of their money that it would be right?

    We are talking past each other.
    If … moral is the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society (Oxfrd D)
    And if … everyone in a society believes X is a right behaviour
    Then … X is a moral behaviour in this society

    So you do believe that bilking old ladies would be okay if only society generally agreed that it was. I did not ask what you yourself would do, since you are living in the afterglow of a Christian morality. I asked “if everyone in society was taught and firmly believed that it was right to swindle old widows” would it actually be right?

    Whatever you think about human nature, men are not rational most of the time. So your proposition is observable bullshit.

    Really? You think men are unable to give reasons for their acts, abstract universals principles from particular experience, use language, etc.? I suppose when they are asleep, but that is not “most of the time.” Who knew that their nature changed when they dozed off. (There are also speech defects, mental defects, etc., but those do not characterize the nature of man.)

    Or do you think being “rational” = “being logical” like Houyhnhnms? Or that “rational” = “giving reasons that plazaeme agrees with?”
    +++

    I can’t keep reading.

    And just in time, too. Otherwise you might get a question answered
    +++

    I am tired of your mental gymnastics based on smoke.

    I’m sorry if mental gymnastics are too difficult for you.
    +++

    How can you tell the difference between a God okay society and a God not-okay society by only looking at the behavior of its members?

    I’m not sure what you mean by a God-okay society. I have not mentioned God, nor have I cited him in the development of the moral basics in the part where you declared your inability to read further. It was premised entirely on human nature as an animal possessed of intellect and volition.

    Can you determine what the standards and specifications are for a manufactured part based only on the actual measurements of the parts produced? No, you would have to know the standard independently of the behaviors.
    +++

    So, what? AUBM says you can’t lay many women?

    I’m not sure what you mean by AUBM, but that does seem to be what many soi-disant latter-day atheists fear. Ask women who have stumbled into atheist conventions and find they need “safe spaces” for real. But what I said was that folks who deny an objective morality usually have very specific ideas about what they want to get away with and forget that they have given license to others to get away with other stuff — like bilking your grandmother of her savings.

    But in fact, all societies have in fact had rules about which women you were allowed to mate with and under what circumstances. It’s one of those things that seem to be morally universal, although the details of application vary. (E.g., dividing clans into moeities and restricting choice of mates to the opposite moeity.)
    +++

    If it is non observable it is a fantasy

    No, if it is non-observable it is simply non-observable. Who has ever observed Mathematics? Forces? Beauty? Taste? Laws of physics? For that matter, Heisenberg denied the objective existence of subatomic particles, comparing them to Aristotelian potentialities.
    +++

    Is AUBM the morality of Gypsies? Great, because they believe in theft.

    And how would you characterize the morality of blacks or Jews?
    +++

    – Genes are not programming. cf. phenotype plasticity.
    Let’s try not to be very hard on you. We’ll pass this one.

    You don’t realize that critters with the same genotypes can develop different phenotypes depending on epigenetic factors? Cf. helmeted water fleas, Mediterranean wall lizards, Devil’s Hole pupfish, et al.
    +++

  94. Rodrigues, you are getting better and better.

    It is quite clear what you meant by “practical or functional difference”.

    Sure it is quite clear for anyone but you, who don’t dare to define. If you lack the culture to understand functional, use a dictionary.

    Yes, your beliefs are dreary, dull, stupid fantasies. We can agree on that.

    Sure. But you are quite ridiculous if you think your adjectives avoid fantasies from being societal tools, or relieve you from your moral duty to provide a definition.

    So first it was the “definition of morality” that was “extravagant”. Now it was not merely “extravagant”, but our forefathers “didn’t have a clue” about the “function of morality”. The “function of morality”, a modern discovery! Along with M&Ms and Pokemons!

    Very simple my dear genius. To understand the function of something inside a very complex system you need to study many situations and as different as possible. Your forefathers didn’t have enough differences to study, nor the tools to do it. You know: animals, in the wild and laboratory; hunter-gatherers; post-God societies; etc. But we know you think you don’t need reality to achieve knowledge. Thanks for demonstrating my point.

    It seemed to me that you were claiming that the conception of morality as Mr. Briggs and YOS used it, was circular

    If I write a hundred times circular argument, of course you can understand whatever you choose to understand. That’s how the world of fantasy works.

    But since now you are asking me for a definition,

    And you apparently think arguments can work without defining the terms. So, you are not only outside reality, but outside simple logic.

    To get to and ending. I asked you two questions which are necessary to understand why the heck you imagine atheists are going to cry by your “reasoning”. A definition, and how it works. Do you provide them? No, sir. You fish for excuses to avoid it. I would say you demonstrated atheist’s point. You won’t “make an atheist cry”. So sorry. They are all laughing out loud

  95. Ye Olde Statistician (@11:50 PM)

    So you do believe that bilking old ladies would be okay if only society generally agreed that it was.

    This is very boring, YOS. Observe the world (not your fantasy). You will notice that “to be OK” has not meaning if you don’t provide a reference frame. Everything you observe is OK and not-OK depending on the reference frame. Yes, you think there is a universal absolute reference frame. But, as you don’t (1) provide a definition, and (2) show how it works, there is no way anyone can know what you are talking about, nor believe it.

    Men are quite capable of giving reasons for their acts. This is not “being rational”, but rationalizing.

    Or do you think being “rational” = …

    I try to look up what others think, so we are using the same meanings.

    Oxford Dictionary, rational:

    Based on or in accordance with reason or logic

    Human behaviour is nearly never based on reason. We rationalize it after the decision.

    And just in time, too. Otherwise you might get a question answered

    Is it so? You provided a definition of AUBM? Can you be so kind to copy it without the garbage? (You know, a statement of the exact meaning of a word).

    I’m sorry if mental gymnastics are too difficult for you.

    They are not difficult at all. They are pointless if they are not reality based.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a God-okay society. … It was premised entirely on human nature as an animal possessed of intellect and volition.

    Briggs:

    Tell an atheist there could be no morality, no right and no wrong, without G—without God, that is

    So, Briggs is certainly “mentioning God” and using God to explain morality. You don’t? Good for you! But I am not (and cannot) address anyone’s idea of morality. I assumed you had the same as Briggs. Any case, if your idea is based on human nature, and you believe the fantasy that “the nature of man is to be a rational animal”, I am not interested in your fantasy.

    I’m not sure what you mean by AUBM

    I told you: Universal Absolute Briggs Morality. I don’t know what it means. I don’t even believe it exists. That’s what we are trying to find. Some miracle which will “make atheists cry” because “there could be no morality (UABM) without God”. Now you tell us you have a different version of universal morality. Great; it is as much a fantasy as Biriggs morality because it is based on an obviously fantastic “nature of man”.

    Yes, I understood you. You think that folks who deny an objective morality are usually bad boys. It may be true. It is also true that folks who state they believe in an “objective morality” behave exactly as the folks who deny an “objective morality”. I asked you to show me te difference. Did you?

    You may think nearly nobody believes in an true “objective morality” (say YOS True Objective Morality, or YTOM), and you may think the world would be a paradise if they did. And I may agree it is a very interesting … theory. Go check it. Show me your predictions.

    Who has ever observed Mathematics?

    Get two apples. Add two more. Can you observe four apples? Maths (and logic) is a fantasy. Applied to something real is observable. You are not aplying your logic to something real.

    And how would you characterize the morality of blacks or Jews?

    I don’t know of any “morality of blacks”. I would characterize any morality by describing its features. ¿So what?

    You don’t realize that critters with the same genotypes can develop different phenotypes depending on epigenetic factors?

    Yes I do. It doesn’t follow genes are not a programm. It does follow your end result comes from program + world. So what?

    I insist. Can you show me that humans who state they believe in YTOM have a different behaviour compared to humans who don’t state they believe in YTOM? If you can’t, there is no way Briggs can “make an atheist cry”, either with AUBM or with YTOM.

  96. Plazaeme.
    “Human behaviour is nearly never based on reason. We rationalize it after the decision.”

    Only a rational creature could ever rationalize. Animals do not rationalize.

  97. Mactoul (@4:41 AM)

    Only a rational creature could ever rationalize. Animals do not rationalize.

    If you think “being able to reason” is “being rational”, you are right. Chimps are able to reason.

  98. YOS,

    [C]ritters with the same genotypes can develop different phenotypes depending on epigenetic factors?

    This claim claim is false. There is no sufficient evidence to support it. Science!

  99. Rodrigues, YOS.

    Let’s get rid of all the smoke you are so keen to produce. Let’s focus. Correct me if I am wrong.

    (1) You both believe there is a special kind of morality that is not society dependant, and it has an absolute (universal, true, etc.) reference frame. It may be the same morality with different names (AUBM, YTOM), or they may be two different moralities. We’ll see.

    (2) You both believe such a morality makes a difference compared to the lack of such morality.

    This difference can be …

    (2a) A difference in believes (as in thou shalt not believe in false gods)

    or …

    (2b) A difference in behaviour (killings, theft, cannibalism, etc.).

    or …

    (2c) Both.

    (3) Briggs & Rodrigues thinks this special morality (AUBM) needs the fantastic idea of God to be true. YOS thinks it needs a fantastic idea of human nature to be true (the nature of man is to be rational).

    (4) Briggs & Rodrigues think this self-evident truth will “make atheists cry”. I don’t have a clue on what YOS thinks in this respect.

    Do we agree so far?

  100. @plazaeme:

    “To get to and ending. I asked you two questions which are necessary to understand why the heck you imagine atheists are going to cry by your “reasoning”. A definition, and how it works. Do you provide them? No, sir. You fish for excuses to avoid it. I would say you demonstrated atheist’s point. You won’t “make an atheist cry”. So sorry. They are all laughing out loud.”

    I have already addressed this, more than once actually. So, repeating myself. First, you speak only for yourself not for all atheists and yes, there are atheists that will object strenuously to the substantive implication in the OP. But more importantly, and since I am discussing with you not with a random atheist, this is moot because *you* *agree* with it. All discussion that can be had can only be about comparatively mere fluff, such as the amount of tears or teeth cringing that atheists do or not do. You yourself do not shed a single tear, think it is all fine and dandy and even “laugh out loud”. Blessed ignorance. You may not be aware, but you have already conceded all that I could ever ask (short of full blown repentance I guess), without even having to break a sweat. As far as I am concerned, check mate, game over.

    And as for “fishing for excuses” — I have not given any excuses whatsoever. Am I interested in educating you in what is the standard, normative classical conception of morality? Not really. If our short exchanges are anything to go by, if your responses to YOS are any indication, it would be like pulling teeth. And if you do not know such basic stuff, shouldn’t you educate yourself? Just a thought. It is all the more puzzling when you have already conceded what you have conceded — namely, you agree with the substantive implication in the OP.

  101. You are incredible Rodrigues.

    And as for “fishing for excuses” — I have not given any excuses whatsoever.

    OK the last one:

    I have already addressed this, more than once actually. So, repeating myself.

    And, yes, you do repeat yourself in not giving a definition. Addressing something, or believing you did, is not a definition. This is, exactly, “fishing for excuses” to avoid providing a definition. Or a difference in behaviour.

    All discussion that can be had can only be about comparatively mere fluff, such as the amount of tears or teeth cringing that atheists do or not do.

    No. What you should explain is why anyone, atheist or otherwise, should be concerned or even slightly interested in a fantasy of Briggs, when Briggs refuses to show what a difference it produces in human behaviour. No one is much interested in other’s believes and fantasies — excluding some fanatics.

    I am very glad you are so happy with yourself. Is it an internal effect of AUBM? I’ll try to smoke some.

  102. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 12, 2016 at 8:50 am

    – So you do believe that bilking old ladies would be okay if only society generally agreed that it was.
    Everything you observe is OK and not-OK depending on the reference frame.

    IOW, you do.
    BTW, nice pseudo-scientific use of physics language to give the discourse a patina of Scientificalistic thinking.
    +++

    They [morality] are pointless if they are not reality based.

    That is precisely what Aristotle did; yet you did not want to read it. You deny that it is reality. Humans do not have language. You do not have reasons for what you are writing here. You do not have reasons for your atheism. When you give reasons, you claim they are only rationalizations. Imagine the havoc this belief would wreak if transferred to the natural sciences, where scientists (who are also humans) attempt to give sufficient reasons for observations.

    BTW, do you suppose that Aristotle never saw a drunk or a man in the grips of rage? Do you suppose he did not know that men did not always reason in a logical manner? That’s why he wrote that the human nature had a rational and an irrational part. For example, we do not reason ourselves to be hunngry or to desire red. See Nich. Eth, I.13, here http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.1.i.html
    +++

    if your idea [of morality] is based on human nature, and you believe the fantasy that “the nature of man is to be a rational animal”…

    Atheists always take aim at God and always wind up shooting humanism.
    +++

    Briggs is certainly “mentioning God” and using God to explain morality.

    But in what way? Perhaps you think of God as a sort of Caesar Augustus sitting upon a throne and issuing decrees? But that is not how it works. It leads to the so-called Euthyphro dilemma. (Again, see Plato for details.) That may be good enough for most, who lack the time, skills, or interest for the mental gymnastics. After all, most of us know about physics or chemistry only what we need for practical life and do not delve into the basic reasoning behing, say, Ricci tensors or valence electrons. But that is not the whole thing.
    +++

    You think that folks who deny an objective morality are usually bad boys.

    Nope, but there is nothing but parasitism to prevent them. Notice that you cannot be a bad boy without a standard of morality to go by.

    folks who state they believe in an “objective morality” behave exactly as the folks who deny an “objective morality”. I asked you to show me te difference.

    Oh, they would know that they’ve been bad.
    +++

    Get two apples. Add two more. Can you observe four apples?

    What do you mean by “two” apples? I observe this apple and that apple. I do not observe a “two.” If I place this apple and that apple on a table are there now three things on the table: viz., this apple and that apple and a “two”? C’mon, no fudging on the “observable” thingie.

    Maths (and logic) is a fantasy. Applied to something real is observable.

    To what “real or observable thing” is the mathematics of conjoining and splitting topologies of function spaces applied?

    Of course, morality is applied to things that are “observable,” too; to wit: old ladies bilked of their life’s savings.
    +++

    – And how would you characterize the morality of blacks or Jews?
    I don’t know of any “morality of blacks”… So what?

    You had no problem characterizing gypsies as thieves. I was just wondering how you characterized other groups of humans.
    +++

    Can you show me that humans who state they believe in YTOM have a different behaviour compared to humans who don’t state they believe in YTOM?

    This has already been done. I cited several prominent atheists (Sartre, Nietzsche, Voltaire, Rorty, etc.) who contended that there must be a difference and sed contra St. Paul, who contended there need not be. It was Paul’s contention, riffing off Plato in the Timaeus who gave us this notion of “synderesis” (conscience) that distinguishes Christendom from other civilizations (where they rely on shame rather than guilt, and morality is simply obedience to the father figure). The law is “written in their hearts,” Paul wrote, even if they do not know the law. Thus a virtuous pagan need not act differently than a virtuous Jew. This is less because they “believe” in an objective morality than because the objective morality believes in them. That is, if the law is in fact written in their hearts, it is not necessary that they know who wrote it there; although it may be important that they know how to read. IOW, your question misses the mark.

    I get the sense that you feel the moral law is like the positive law: a set of proscriptions handed down by an authority like the Cornelian Law by the Roman Senate or the Corn Law by the British Parliament. But it is really more like the Law of Gravity. The behavior of someone who believes that there is an invisible “force” that reaches out from the Earth (or any ponderable matter) and pulls objects toward it is not demonstrably different from that of people who believe otherwise. They both fall to Earth at 32 ft/sec². Of course, those who don’t believe in gravity may not be as careful while cavorting on the edges of cliffs, but most of them will take their cue from their innate fear of falling that is “written in their hearts.”

  103. @plazaeme:

    “What you should explain is why anyone, atheist or otherwise, should be concerned or even slightly interested in a fantasy of Briggs, when Briggs refuses to show what a difference it produces in human behaviour.”

    The point of the OP is not to explain “why anyone, atheist or otherwise, should be concerned or even slightly interested in a fantasy of Briggs”, that is just your private little obsession. I have already responded to the “difference it produces in human behaviour”. Briggs himself explicitly addresses this in the OP. Go back and read again if you are interested.

  104. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 12, 2016 at 9:08 am

    [C]ritters with the same genotypes can develop different phenotypes depending on epigenetic factors
    This claim claim is false. There is no sufficient evidence to support it. Science!

    Two cloned populations of helmeted water fleas were raised in separate tanks. One tank was tinctured with the chemical marker for a predator fish, the other was not. The fleas in the first tank developed with the characteristic helmet of their species. The other population did not.
    Observation!

    Wall lizards on a barren island off the Adriatic coast of Croatia were insectivorous. A group of them were transferred to another island lush with vegetation but without wall lizards. Twenty years later, this second population had not only shifted from eating insects (and each other) to eating plant matter, but they had developed an organ for digesting the stuff.
    Observation!

    The entire species of the Devils Hole pupfish lives in a rocky pool, 20 meters long and three meters wide, in a cave entrance in Death Valley, California. In 1976, conservationists established the fish in other pools elsewhere just in case Devil’s Hole dried up. “But the refuge-bred fish began to look different, with deeper bodies and smaller heads, although all the fish [were] pretty much the same genetically.” Sean Lema, a graduate student at UC Davis, and Gabrielle Nevitt, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, … reared a related but unthreatened species, the Amargosa pupfish, in the lab on a restricted diet and with slight changes in water temperature. The Amargosa pupfish began to look more like the wild Devils Hole pupfish.” In other words, one kind of pupfish changed into another kind of pupfish when placed in the particular environment of the other. Significant adaptive variations appeared within two years. Since pupfish reach full maturity within 2 to 3 months and spawn from late February through the summer, that’s about four or five pupfish generations. “No new information had appeared in the guppies’ DNA; instead, the expression of the existing information had altered.”
    Observation!

  105. Rodrigues:

    The point of the OP is not to explain “why anyone, atheist or otherwise, should be concerned or even slightly interested in a fantasy of Briggs”, that is just your private little obsession.

    Well … no. If Briggs thinks it will “make an atheist cry” (the title of the post), we may forgive him the little details of how much crying, etc. But we cannot forgive at least a clue of why should anyone have the slightest of interests. Unless we think he’s lost his mind, which may probably not be too far from being the case.

    I have already responded to the “difference it produces in human behaviour”. Briggs himself explicitly addresses this in the OP. Go back and read again if you are interested.

    Can you quote Briggs, please? We may have a problem with the meaning of “showing”. For te average guy, “to show” something is definitively not to speculate with what will happen … if I your fantasy is true.

    So, as you think Briggs has showed a difference in human behaviour when he has not done it at all, then I won’t think you are able to know whether you have or not. But you can quote yourself too, though. I am not going to check (I did for Briggs) because it is a waste of time with someone who can’t distinguish imagination from reality.

    This is the closest Briggs comes to showing a difference in behaviour:

    Similarly, the man who denies God, or says he does, will not rape, murder, and steal, at least, not at rates different (or much different) than other men, unless his disbelief is so strong that he sincerely acts on the conclusion that, without God, there is no universal morality. The logic that gives this conclusion would be valid and sound if the premise “God does not exist” is true, which it isn’t. Anyway, this man will reason that if nothing matters, whatever he does is without moral consequence. He might do anything.

    And you think this is “showing a difference in behaviour”? You are out of your mind.

    Besides, you are completely wrong. But I don’t think explaining (and “showing”) you will make any difference. Tip: Not even chimps “might do anything”. It’s a fact (not that you care about facts).

  106. Great thread. 101 comments where tears were shed, teeth gnashed, and garments rent, just as our host promised. Nice work, Briggs. And thanks also to Rodrigues and YOS for a fine show.

  107. YOS

    I am stopping reading you. Not that it is not very interesting (you are). It’s a matter of time. I am not interested in Aristotle, I prefer playing Go.

    The case is, Aristotle or not Aristotle, we have a relatively simple problem. At least in theory. You know of a morality (YTOM) that is interesting because of something?

    A) Yes.

    -> Why is it interesting?

    A1) It changes what people believe and how people behave.

    -> Great, show me the difference in behavior.

    A2) It doesn’t change human behaviour in a way I can show.

    -> Sorry, not interested in fantasies.

    B) No.

    -> If it is not interesting, why waste the time?

  108. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 12, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I am stopping reading you.

    What, too risky?

    It changes what people believe and how people behave.

    So does gravity, whether one believes it or not.

    But those who do not believe (“be-“+”lief”, greatly love; cognate to “belove” and Ger. “geliebt”) are susceptible to the temptation of their lower appetites, their vegetative or sensitive inclinations; much as the man who leaves the highway and cuts through fields and forests may indeed reach his destination, but is more liable to getting lost.

    Stipulated, there are those, perhaps most, who simply piggy-back on the accepted morality of their culture without much thought to its source. These are those that Nietzsche called “the English flatheads” in Twilight of the Idols, because they did not follow the logic of their (un)belief beyond good and evil to the superman (or at least, one supposes, into Sartre’s existential angst and despair). Instead, they smuggle in through the back door the very notions they claim to disdain.

    When Nietzsche noted that no man of reason should rejoice in the death of God, it was because after the death of God comes the death of reason. And we have already seen plazaeme throw reason under the bus. (Anything, it seems, to dodge that which may lurk on the far side of a syllogism.

  109. @Dean Ericson:

    “And thanks also to Rodrigues and YOS for a fine show.”

    Glad to oblige.

  110. YOS,

    So, the fleas tinctured with the chemical marker developed the characteristic helmet of their species. Yes, it is indeed an observation. Still, no sufficient evidence that it is the work of epigenetic factors; again see the link in my previous comment. To conclude so, you will need much more than those observations, and perhaps, one first needs to know the definition of “epigenetic.”

    No responses expected from you, please don’t waste your time here.

  111. I’m still trying to figure out how plazaewe is observing morality, atheistic or otherwise.

    Are obligations observable? What do they look like?

  112. YOS:

    “It changes what people believe and how people behave.”

    So does gravity, whether one believes it or not.

    Perfect. We are coming to an understanding. You cannot tell the difference between “seeing” (gravity) and “believing” (YTOM). I know you don’t think this is a problem, which is quite good for you. Congratulations! Nearly all of of the rest of the Galaxy would tell you otherwise, but I recommend you to keep on not listening.

    So, we don’t have a proper answer, but we can assume it (correct me if I am wrong)

    A2) It doesn’t change human behaviour in a way I can show.

    -> Sorry, not interested in fantasies.

    -> There is no difference between observing and believing (fantasies).

    -> Thank you, that’s all I need to know about you.

    Ah, and this:

    I am stopping reading you.

    What, too risky?<

    Don’t overestimate yourself. What part don’t you understand in “not interested in your fantasies”? It was just a moral act — although a low-level one. Letting you understand a probable silence with no offence. Some call it manners.

  113. SteveK

    I’m still trying to figure out how plazaewe is observing morality, atheistic or otherwise.

    Morality is meant to affect behaviour. You observe behavior.

    Are obligations observable? What do they look like?

    They look like written or spoken phrases (in humans, not in chimps). You observe changes in behaviour. You can’t “see” temperature. Yes, it is an “observation”.

    You think you can observe a difference in behaviour between a theistic morality and an atheistic one? Can you show me?

  114. An incredible thread. A brilliant demonstration of the vacuity of popular atheism. A highlight:

    Look at ISIS morality, look at medieval morality. All carried out in the name of God. Look at slavery, look at torturing. All considered fully morally acceptable until a few centuries ago. God himself ordered in the bible the killing of babies and rape of conquered women. Absolute morality does not exist. Morality evolved, together with humans.

    This whole paragraph undermines itself. To say, morality ‘evolves’, while also asserting there is no ‘absolute’ morality, is simply to say that morality changes. Nothing more, because you are denying that there is some absolute standard by which we could judge any of these preceding or subsequent changes as better or worse. Which is to concede Brigg’s claim, ‘No God, no morality’.

  115. – Are obligations observable? What do they look like?

    They look like written or spoken phrases

    Every written or spoken phrase is an obligation??

  116. dover_beach:

    I think you are wrong.

    Yes, you are right when you say “evolves” without an objective is the same as “changes”. But then we do observe an evolution which has a very non random tendency. More complex societies; better technology and knowledge; less violence. You can study if a change in morality may have something to do with it.

    I am not trying to convince you. But I guess you have to accept the theoretical possibility.

    Note: I am not saying the more “evolved” morality is more “moral”. But … it may have evolved.

  117. SteveK

    Every written or spoken phrase is an obligation??

    I am very sorry to say so, but this looks like a too stupid question. And, not being you stupid, I may not be understanding correctly. What do you mean?

  118. You said obligations are observed in the form of written or spoken phrases. I asked if *every* one is an example of an obligation.

    If a person doesn’t “see” the obligation can you *show* them that it’s there? How?

  119. SteveK

    OK, sorry. I wasn’t getting your question.

    If a person doesn’t “see” the obligation can you *show* them that it’s there? How?

    It happens all the time. I don’t need to “show” him anything. I don’t care. What I need to observe is an effect on behavior of an obligation that is usually unsderstood as such. There are always exceptions, bandits, pirates, and so on.

    Note: Yes, societies have many means to “show” the retarded the meaning of a moral obligation.

  120. Yes, you are right when you say “evolves” without an objective is the same as “changes”. But then we do observe an evolution which has a very non random tendency. More complex societies; better technology and knowledge; less violence. You can study if a change in morality may have something to do with it.

    Note: I am not saying the more “evolved” morality is more “moral”. But … it may have evolved.

    Again, this is just confused and self-defeating. What you want to observe is improvement in our moral beliefs and understanding. It’s not even clear how increasing complexity, let alone increasing knowledge (knowledge assumes that our moral ideas and understandings can conform to reality which would beg the question), demonstrates an ‘improved’ morality, and if it does not demonstrate that, it cannot demonstrate an ‘evolving’ morality beyond mere changes in our moral ideas and understanding from one culture or epoch to the next.

  121. – dover_beach:

    What you want to observe is improvement in our moral beliefs and understanding

    This may be what YOU want to observe, but it is not what is needed to observe something “evolve”.

    Oxford Dictionary, evolve:

    Develop gradually

    Oxford Dictionary, develop:

    Grow or cause to grow and become more mature, advanced, or elaborate

    Are human societies becoming more advanced or elaborate during the time we know about them? Did moralities (behaviour) evolve with socities in a way you can suspect (and investigate) a cause and an effect?

    Your denial does not say anything about the theoretical proposition. It does say a lot about the state of your mind.

  122. @plazaeme

    This is a strange argument you’re making. You want to argue that morality ‘evolves’, ie. develops gradually, as indicated by increasingly advanced, complex, elaborate, or mature moral beliefs and advancement, while also arguing that none of this advancement, complexity, elaboration, or maturation, indicates an improvement in our moral beliefs and understanding. This is like saying that increasingly complex and elaborate legs, for example, that don’t improve stability and/ or locomotion could constitute an advancement or improvement. Further, advancement and maturation are also indicative of some direction in development, ie. of telos, and I’m not sure you really want to go there.

  123. “What I need to observe is an effect on behavior of an obligation that is usually unsderstood as such.”

    “Usually understood” is vague enough to make most claim seem legit. We’re talking about observed reality here, which is not vague at all. I’m very skeptical that obligations can be observed. Behaviors, yes – obligations, you’re gonna have to show me and you have not done that.

    A person can *believe* they have an obligation based on their senses, but an *actual* obligation to one thing and not another requires more than change over time. All of this is to say I’m not convinced that evolution explains a morality with actual obligations – as you claim it does. A morality without obligations, if that is all you are claiming here, is irrelevant to me.

  124. dover_beach

    You want to argue that morality ‘evolves’, ie. develops gradually, as indicated by increasingly advanced, complex, elaborate, or mature moral beliefs

    I never said that. I said, “human societies becoming more advanced or elaborate”, and possibly “moralities (behaviour) evolve with societies”. You, only you, jump from more elaborate and complex society to more elaborate and complex morality. It is a possibility, it is not a given.

    It is not more complex or elaborate not to rape women as you see fit than to rape women as you fancy. In fact, it is simpler. However, it will permit a more complex society. It is not more complex but more simple a caste less morality than the caste system in India. And so on.
    Listen, we can understand each other with terms like complex (you can measure interactions). Not so much with “improvement”. It implies an objective, a purpose. And you end with the circularity of fitting your fantasy as *the* purpose. Even if a society or a moral system “wins” over other society or moral system which disappears, there wasn’t any purpose in the change of morality which could have caused the winning. There wasn’t any “being” knowing the effect beforehand.

    You are thinking “backwards”. You are not trying to understand how it works. You have a purpose, a “happy ending”, and you hammer reality to fit in your purpose. It is the best way to fool yourself.

    Further, advancement and maturation are also indicative of some direction in development, ie. of telos, and I’m not sure you really want to go there.

    I wouldn’t know what “maturation” means in a society. I don’t have any problem with a “direction” (I mentioned it in the first place). I am not “back-thinking”, as you are. I am not trying to demonstrate God doesn’t exist, nor anything else. God does not offend my sensibility. I am not a God hater. Etc. But, if a more complex (or simply bigger) society has more possibilities to “win” over other societies, then you will have the appearance of a telos … without any purpose, or goal. And, as you need a purpose, you will see a purpose. Fooling yourself, that is.

  125. SteveK

    “Usually understood” is vague enough to make most claim seem legit.

    Understood by a clear majority. There you are.

    I’m very skeptical that obligations can be observed.

    No, probably you cannot observe them. However, it is your fault because you have them just in front of your nose. I don’t know where you live and how old are you. But the best bet is you have experienced at least one process of “moralization”. One case could be the process (still quite incomplete) of the moralization of homosexuality. Is it working by convincing folks with nice and philosophical chats in the riverside, surrounded by color-full flowers, or it goes by a violent imposition? And you say you don’t see obligations? Don’t make me laugh.

    Note. There is nothing in particular with this homo-morality thing. It is how morality works. You (all) just don’t understand morality. Too much fantasy, not enough observations.

  126. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 12, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    You cannot tell the difference between “seeing” (gravity) and “believing” (YTOM)

    It seems that you cannot tell the difference between seeing (falling bodies) and believing (an invisible force eminating from ponderable matter).

    So, we don’t have a proper answer, but we can assume it doesn’t change human behaviour in a way I can show.

    Don’t suppose that because you refuse to believe an answer, or you did not bother to read it, that it was not “proper.”

    We’ll try once more to overcome your terror:
    1. The moral law subsists in human nature.
    2. As such, all human beings have this law “written in their hearts.”
    3. Hence, the behaviors of all human beings are in proportion to their response to this law.
    4. This is independent of whether or not they believe such a law exists. Except possibly for sociopaths, everyone has a conscience.
    5. Thus, the belief does not change human behavior in the sense that people who believe in the Newtonian fantasy do not move around differently in the gravity field from those who do.
    6. Hence, your question is absurd. It’s like asking what the world would look like if there were no God.
    You are thinking of the moral law as a painstaking set of rules laid down by a socialist government. But elucidating the moral law is more like discovering physical laws, not like promulgating ordinances and legislation.

  127. I never said that. I said, “human societies becoming more advanced or elaborate”, and possibly “moralities (behaviour) evolve with societies”. You, only you, jump from more elaborate and complex society to more elaborate and complex morality. It is a possibility, it is not a given.

    Look, you are utterly confused here. If societies are becoming more advanced and elaborate than that is going to be reflected in their moral beliefs and understanding. Or else, what you are simply concerned with arguing is the proposition, societies in some non-moral sense ‘evolve’, which would be to have changed the subject.

    It is not more complex or elaborate not to rape women as you see fit than to rape women as you fancy. In fact, it is simpler. However, it will permit a more complex society. It is not more complex but more simple a caste less morality than the caste system in India. And so on.
    Listen, we can understand each other with terms like complex (you can measure interactions).

    This is just dumb. Why do ‘interactions’ measure increasingly complex moralities? They don’t at all. Reasons are the only relevant measure of simplicity or complexity in relation to morality just as they would be for any non-moral theory or tradition.

    Listen, we can understand each other with terms like complex (you can measure interactions). Not so much with “improvement”. It implies an objective, a purpose. And you end with the circularity of fitting your fantasy as *the* purpose. Even if a society or a moral system “wins” over other society or moral system which disappears, there wasn’t any purpose in the change of morality which could have caused the winning. There wasn’t any “being” knowing the effect beforehand.

    The problem for you is that even if you drop ‘improvement’, advancement and development are themselves its cognates, and dropping those also means you’re just talking about changes, again. As for this struggle for existence between moralities, I’m not arguing for any such thing.

    You are thinking “backwards”. You are not trying to understand how it works. You have a purpose, a “happy ending”, and you hammer reality to fit in your purpose. It is the best way to fool yourself.

    Not at all. It is typically the case that evolutionary explanations of this or that behavior in the style of a ‘just-so’ stories are the epitome of ‘thinking ‘backwards’. I’m not arguing that avoiding ‘deliberately killing the innocent’ is an effective survival strategy, or the like. I’m saying that ‘deliberately killing the innocent’ is really, objectively, immoral.

    I wouldn’t know what “maturation” means in a society. I don’t have any problem with a “direction”…But, if a more complex (or simply bigger) society has more possibilities to “win” over other societies, then you will have the appearance of a telos … without any purpose, or goal. And, as you need a purpose, you will see a purpose. Fooling yourself, that is.

    As I thought, you’re just confused. You are saying that this or that change in morality may have the appearance of a telos where there is no real telos, purpose, goal, direction, or maturation. There are just a succession of changes.

  128. And you say you don’t see obligations?
    That’s right. I don’t see them with my eyes. I do experience them in a way that is probably similar to the way a person experiences rationality. However that happens, I cannot deny that I experience both obligations and rationality.

    I further cannot deny that I’m skeptical that evolution (biological change over time) can produce an obligation – yet you believe it can. When will you show us?

  129. Some really are easily pleased if they think
    1 this was a sensible post
    2 They think that Placaeme didn’t win this debate.

    The argument I made and which I believe is true about morality is not in agreement with Placaeme but the point of the post has been slanted and missed probably deliberately by YOS who likes to sway the argument and hopes nobody will notice. Distractions are his best weapon. Sycophants don’t notice or don’t care. I’m still waiting for Briggs post about the soul. He knows all about it apparently. YOS has a direct line through to the other side and with the help of Ed Feser, a most moral and modest man they’ve got it all sewn up. Anything you want to know about souls, ask them.

    Bravo Placaeme! Victory is yours.
    I am on your opponent’s side but apart from Dover Beach, who was polite, am embarrassed by their debate tactics.

    When arguing with YOS expect to be told about widows who are swindled and Aristotle, and bats, lots of bats. Then expect to hear all about what constitutes the soul, for certain, and never expect him to read your comments properly. He is Mr. slippery.

    “Don’t suppose that because you refuse to believe an answer, or you did not bother to read it, that it was not “proper.”
    HA!
    We’ll try once more to overcome your terror:”
    Well well, YOS, scary, terrifying!

  130. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 12, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Anything you want to know about souls, ask them.

    Or you could just read Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics.

  131. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    expect to be told about widows who are swindled and Aristotle, and bats, lots of bats.

    I don’t recall referencing the poor widows before. I simply wanted to avoid the cliche of the murderer or the rake who treats women as sex objects, esp. as the latter is what most desire who reject an objective morality.

    The bats come from Nagel’s article, “What is it like to be a bat?” It was intended to show the impossibility of really grasping another creature’s inner experiences.

    Why reinvent wheels?

  132. “Victory is yours.”

    If victory is defined as not demonstrating the truth of your claim even though you say you can, he’s the clear and decisive winner.

  133. @ Joy
    I have followed this lengthy debate with interest. YOS strikes me as the clear winner. His positions are substantiated with relevant classical references and he employs incisive questioning, followed by first-rate logic. Placaeme on the other hand, seems remarkably obtuse, having a penchant for intellectually extracting the gnat feces from the peppermill, with tweezers, i.e., with truth-seeking taking the hindmost. Some folks just relish seeing their own rhetoric in digital print. Sorry, just MYOP; I’m done.

  134. YOS

    Don’t suppose that because you refuse to believe an answer, or you did not bother to read it

    Sure. If you hide a very simple answer under a ton of irrelevant pompous “Aristotelties”, it is quite probable I will not read it. Y just jump over such paragraphs. And, no, they are not “difficult”. I am not interested in the speculations of uninformed philosophers of past centuries. Yes, uninformed: you don’t read Aristotle if you want to know for example how the human body works, unless you are a total crackpot. In fact, you should NOT read Aristotle at all if you want to understand how things work. And you are a very good demonstration of this principle.

    Let’s go to my “terror”. (Your bragging is even more ridiculous than Brigss’).

    1. The moral law subsists in human nature.

    2. As such, all human beings have this law “written in their hearts.”

    3. Hence, the behaviors of all human beings are in proportion to their response to this law.

    4. This is independent of whether or not they believe such a law exists. Except possibly for sociopaths, everyone has a conscience.

    5. Thus, the belief does not change human behavior in the sense that people who believe in the Newtonian fantasy do not move around differently in the gravity field from those who do.

    You made the perfect unarguable argument.

    X exists and has an effect.

    The effect is variable and unpredictable.

    If the effect is zero, we call it sociopath, but X exists.

    Therefore, whatever I observe, X exists.

    Problem: when anything imaginable I could observe or not observe implies X exists, X may as well not exist.

    And here comes the trick:

    It seems that you cannot tell the difference between seeing (falling bodies) and believing (an invisible force eminating from ponderable matter).

    Yes, I do. If I observe it, it exists. “It” can have X, Y, Z, explanations (beliefs). You check the “beliefs”. Some observations are consistent with some beliefs, some are not. But there is nothing you can observe; any effect or no effect at all are compatible with your belief. You cannot check your belief. I can check mine. You prefer a non check-able belief when you could understand “it” with a check-able belief. Thus, you cannot tell the difference between a check-able and a non check-able belief; between seeing (checking) and believing; between imagining and knowing.

    Have you ever heard about contrasting alternatives? Probably, but you don’t need them because you get your “knowledge” before observing. Thus, you fabricate a fantasy compatible with any observation of any sign. You are right with total independence on reality. Well, that is a very good way of being wrong.

    6. Hence, your question is absurd. It’s like asking what the world would look like if there were no God.

    Hence, you are absurd. Asking what the world would look like if there were no X is, exactly, the first question you ask when you want to know something about X. In fact, Briggs’ physicist did ask the question and got an answer: Flatville. In our case we have quite less radical alternatives. Just that alternatives are not a word of your dictionary. However, this cannot be my problem. Your fantasy world cannot be anyone’s problem.

  135. dover_beach

    Look, you are utterly confused here. If societies are becoming more advanced and elaborate than that is going to be reflected in their moral beliefs and understanding.

    No, you are utterly uni-directional. It could be the case that changing moral beliefs produce different societies, and the more “advanced” ones (whatever that means) tend to “win”. It could also be that both directions work.

    Or else, what you are simply concerned with arguing is the proposition, societies in some non-moral sense ‘evolve’, which would be to have changed the subject.

    How is this changing what subject? Why should evolving societies have a moral sense?

    This is just dumb. Why do ‘interactions’ measure increasingly complex moralities? They don’t at all. Reasons are the only relevant measure of simplicity or complexity in relation to morality just as they would be for any non-moral theory or tradition.

    It depends on how you define complexity. How do you measure complexity with what “reasons”? Maybe, as the rest of the bunch, you don’t need definitions and you don’t need observations. It is very telling.

    The problem for you is that even if you drop ‘improvement’, advancement and development are themselves its cognates, and dropping those also means you’re just talking about changes, again. As for this struggle for existence between moralities, I’m not arguing for any such thing.

    I am talking about changes in societies. The changes are not random. They tend to have more of some characteristics. The struggle for existence is probably the cause of the trend. The struggle for existence probably does not work on the effect of moralities on individuals (behavior), but on the effect of behaviour on societies (complexity, plasticity, size). I am not hammering any desired outcome on reality.

    Not at all. It is typically the case that evolutionary explanations of this or that behavior in the style of a ‘just-so’ stories are the epitome of ‘thinking ‘backwards’.

    It may be the case that evolutionary explanations are just-so stories, or not. I don’t care. I am offering you one evolutionary explanation and, if you think it is a just-so story, you should be able to point to the reason. Are you?

    I’m not arguing that avoiding ‘deliberately killing the innocent’ is an effective survival strategy, or the like. I’m saying that ‘deliberately killing the innocent’ is really, objectively, immoral.

    One would think you have to show us first such an objective morality. The case is many moralities consider moral the killing of innocents. Much more than you would think. The death penalty kills innocents, unavoidably. Errors are unavoidable, so death penalty implies a preference on killing innocents over not killing those who “deserve” it. A war kills innocents, unavoidably. Etc. Where does your “objective morality” live?

    There are some nearly universal moral precepts. Does it mean an “objective morality”? You may call it so, if you wish. But, what does it mean? Does it mean God, or human nature? It may. It may mean anthropoid nature, or anthropoid social dynamics. Go check. You need observations. Don’t ask YOS or Briggs for them.

    As I thought, you’re just confused. You are saying that this or that change in morality may have the appearance of a telos where there is no real telos, purpose, goal, direction, or maturation. There are just a succession of changes.

    You are confused. Maybe not understanding; sorry for my English.

    No, I did not say, “this or that change in MORALITY may have the appearance of a telos”. I said: “if a more complex (or simply bigger) SOCIETY has more possibilities to “win” over other societies, then you will have the appearance of a telos”. You are confusing change in morality with change in society.

    I’ll try to be more clear:

    – A random change in morality changes some behavior.
    – The change in behavior changes some society’s characteristic.
    – It may produce a “more effective” (winner) society, or a “less effective” (loser) society.
    – As less effective societies tend to dissapear, you will observe more societies which have moralities which produce “winner” societies.

    So, you will not observe random changes in societies; some “winner” characteristics will have a positive trend. But the changes in moralities are random. There is not a purpose, nor a trend, in the changes in moralities.

    I am not saying this is what happens. I am saying it could. And, I am saying you don’t want to see it — no matter how obvious and easy it is.

  136. SteveK

    “And you say you don’t see obligations?”
    That’s right. I don’t see them with my eyes. I do experience them in a way that is probably similar to the way a person experiences rationality. However that happens, I cannot deny that I experience both obligations and rationality.

    Are you really serious, and sober? So, if a crowd calls you b*st*rd son of a b*tch we are going to kill you, you are not “seeing it with your eyes” because you are hearing it with your ears? Is it the same kind of “experience” of rationality?

    Then I can only say: You are right. There is an objective morality coming from God and there will always be. Happy?

    I further cannot deny that I’m skeptical that evolution (biological change over time) can produce an obligation – yet you believe it can. When will you show us?

    One pace at a time. I believe it is possible a cultural evolution produced by random changes in morality. I described the possible mechanism in two comments just over this one. It gives you what shows the fantasy of Briggs as a perfect absurd. Non absurd alternatives to God. Do you think it is impossible. Why?

  137. Joy

    Bravo Placaeme! Victory is yours.

    I don’t see it as a matter of “victory”. It seems to me more like the garbage truck. Someone has to clean the streets, eventually.

    I am on your opponent’s side …

    Sorry, I didn’t follow all comments. Only those mentioning mine’s. I’ll look up your comments in case there is something to learn.

  138. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 8:58 am

    If you hide a very simple answer under a ton of irrelevant pompous “Aristotelties”, it is quite probable I will not read it.

    Too many words?

    you don’t read Aristotle if you want to know for example how the human body works, unless you are a total crackpot.

    When you are trying to debunk something that Aristotle wrote, such as concerns natural morality, you really need to address what Aristotle actually wrote and not some vague post-modern notions floating about inside your own head. Now Darwin was quite impressed with Aristotle on biology, but I guess he was a crackpot, too. Surely, it is enough that he invented the idea of natural science, even if he didn’t have the instrumentation to get all the facts right. But for example, when he speaks of the stars, he cautions his readers that the model he presents should be accepted only with caution. “since we are far away from the things observed and have sense of only a few of their attributes.”

    you should NOT read Aristotle at all if you want to understand how things work.

    Up to a point. We are getting back to some of his ideas. Dark matter is said to have most of the properties Aristotle gave to the aether, for example. We still use his logic (syllograms, etc.) and natural science still relies on the Posterior and Prior Analytics. In fact, a great deal of what Aristotle is supposed to have gotten wrong are things Aristotle never claimed, or given the circumstances, were reasonable inferences from the data. In his day, pregnancy led to tooth loss; so adult women generally had fewer teeth than men. Russell claimed this was because Aristotle never asked his wife to open her mouth, but it might be that Russell never thought to open Aristotle’s books. So, who was the epiricist?

    If the effect is zero, we call it sociopath, but X exists.

    Did you know that a dog is a four-legged animal by nature, even if some dogs have three legs due to accident or defect?

    Problem: when anything imaginable I could observe or not observe implies X exists, X may as well not exist.

    Like X=numbers?
    The other possibilities are that the existence of X is not predicated on your imagination, and that X permeates everything, like gravity or natural selection.

    – It seems that you cannot tell the difference between seeing (falling bodies) and believing (an invisible force eminating from ponderable matter).
    Yes, I do. If I observe it, it exists.

    You cannot possibly observe “gravity.” It’s invisible. Falling bodies, you can observe. THAT’S empirical. But whether there is some invisible all-permeating force that pulls them toward ponderable matter is a belief. It may be a reasonable belief, in the sense that men can give reasons for believing it. But wait: you don’t believe men are rational animals. (An amusing contradiction: look up the root meaning of *men, as in “mental.”) And in fact, I do not believe it. The existence of matter creates a distortion in the field of Ricci tensors and ponderable matter, so that the geodesics are curved because space-time itself is curved. That is, the sun does not attract the earth, as most people suppose. It creates a dimple in the manifold and the earth rolls around it. Gravity, from this POV is actually a fantasy.

    But no doubt you would prefer a simple answer and not a ton of pompous Einsteinities.

    Asking what the world would look like if there were no X is, exactly, the first question you ask when you want to know something about X.

    Not necessarily. The world would not look like anything if there were no God. God being the creator of the world means the world would not otherwise exist. What would marriage look like if there were no wives? What would cricket look like if there were no wickets? What would the world look like if there were no gravity? (It wouldn’t look like anything, since galaxies, stars, planets would not cohere.)

  139. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Are you really serious, and sober? So, if a crowd calls you b*st*rd son of a b*tch we are going to kill you, you are not “seeing it with your eyes” because you are hearing it with your ears?

    I believe that you are being overly literalistic. I think what Mr. Beach means is that you cannot observe the obligation per se. You can observe the shout from the crowd — do they shout this in unison or was it a particular individual — and from this observation of sound waves in the air you may infer a motive to run away. But you cannot see or hear (or smell or taste or touch) the obligation itself. (Nor, for that matter, are you obligated to run. cf. the Spartans at Thermopylae or the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.)

  140. Dear YOS.

    Too many words?

    Yes. I never read a book. If you write more than 25 words on a row, I will not understand what you mean. I am dumb, dumb, dumb. Does this grant the existence of your YTOM? I bet you think so.

    Aristotle. I never denied his vital importance on our culture and advancing in knowledge. I made a very simple and check-able proposition. That’s what we dumb people do. Too much Aristotle may produce nowadays a blindness to reality. We have quite a few examples in the thread. I’ll add something to the proposition. It may produce not only a blindness to reality, but also a reduction on cognitive capability. (Though it may be the same phenomenon with different wording, or perspective).

    Crackpot. My example showed quite clearly what was meant. Using Aristotle as a source of knowledge for something he could not know. Your examples do not address this point. So, a lot of blablabla, as always. I think it is called charlatanism in English.

    Aristotle could have had a good knowledge in some way to understand morality. He had. But your Aristotelian reduction in cognitive capability impedes you to understand the argument. I’ll make a graph for you.

    Briggs, with a supposedly brilliant metaphor, states: you can have not YTOM as much as you can have non-Gravity. It is false on two grounds.

    1. You can have a non-YTOM morality without any problem whatsoever. In fact, this is what you observe. Not a problem for you because YTOM is not observable.

    2. Non Gravity implies no humans, thus non observable universe (save for God, I presume). But, and this is the point, not-YTOM does not imply no humans.

    Aristotle again. The question is not the impossibility of YTOM — though it is fun asking you to show it, and seeing your tremors. The question is THE POSSIBILITY of not-YTOM. As not-YTOM is entirely based on knowledge acquired way past Aristotle’s times, you don’t need to read a single word of Aristotle to address the problem. Because for Briggs to be absurd, you don’t need YTOM to be not true, but not-YTOM not to be as impossible as non-Gravity is.

    Does your Honour understand with this simple picture for infants, or you need something like more for the breastfed?

    As you see, the proposition about the pernicious effect of Aristotle in modern simple minds is becoming more plausible as the thread advances, not less. You cannot address the problem in the “brilliant” metaphor with Aristotle, but you cannot think outside Arsitotle. This is your drama.

  141. “But you cannot see or hear (or smell or taste or touch) the obligation itself. (Nor, for that matter, are you obligated to run. cf. the Spartans at Thermopylae or the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.)”

    Yup. Apparently he is observing ghosts.

  142. YOS

    I think what Mr. Beach means is that you cannot observe the obligation per se.

    Exactly as you cannot observe temperature or X-rays “per se”. Folks with no Aristotle overdose call thermometer readings and a radio-graphs “observations”. I suggest as an exercise you try to understand why.

  143. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 11:12 am

    not-YTOM is entirely based on knowledge acquired way past Aristotle’s times

    But if morality cannot be observed, on what knowledge can it be based? Newton’s law of universal gravitation? Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism? The existence of the Americas? The existence of Uranus? The nature of chemical bonds? What objective knowledge deals with so subjective a thing as the “culturally-evolved” opinions of large numbers of people. Perhaps the statistics of polling?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

    My experience has been that acronyms are used in management to present the illusion of having said something of content. What exactly do you mean by non-YTOM? I don’t mean what do the letters stand for, but what concept does it stand for?

  144. YOS, Steve K

    Oxford Dictionary,

    observation:
    The action or process of closely observing *or monitoring* something or someone

    monitoring:
    Observe and check the progress or quality of (something) over a period of time; keep under systematic review: equipment was installed to monitor air quality

    Who do you think was seeing, or hearing, or smelling, or tasting, or touching the air? Apparently IT IS about ghost observation. 😉

  145. plazaeme
    “Folks with no Aristotle overdose call thermometer readings and a radio-graphs “observations”

    Likewise, those same folks understand that obligations are not the result of matter in motion. It takes an overdose of new atheism to believe in that.

  146. It’s not WHO is observing. It’s about WHAT. You are claiming to observe an obligation. Where???

  147. YOS

    But if morality cannot be observed, on what knowledge can it be based?

    No, your YTOM morality cannot be observed. According to you, anyway. I don’t care about YTOM and wouldn’t know. Normal morality can be observed and is observed with no problem. I showed you an example: the “moralization” of homosexuality. You have loads of other observations, all around the world. And a huge literature.

  148. SteveK

    It’s not WHO is observing. It’s about WHAT. You are claiming to observe an obligation. Where???

    Thou shalt not believe in false gods There you have. Get a Bible or a Koran. Observe a mom interacting with the child (it can be a chimp mom). Etc.

    Oxford Ditcionary, obligation:

    An *act or course of action* to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment:

  149. YOS

    What exactly do you mean by non-YTOM? I don’t mean what do the letters stand for, but what concept does it stand for?

    We just entered Alice in Wonderland. I don’t have the slightest idea on what the concept stands for. It is YOUR concept. But, as much as I asked, you never provided a definition, nor showed it in reality. I have to imagine what the hell it is this “objective” morality based on your fantastic idea of the “nature of man”. I cannot observe it, or know where it lives, or know how it dresses, or even know what are its main precepts. Nor what it does. You never tell. But, you ask ME?

    By the way. Did you understand why we don’t need Aristotle at all to resolve the “brilliant” metaphor?

  150. YOS.

    Oh sorry. I misunderstood.

    – What exactly do you mean by non-YTOM? I don’t mean what do the letters stand for, but what concept does it stand for?

    You say non-YTOM, not YTOM. It is obvious. Morality in the normal way of understanding morality, not in the YTOM way.

    Oxford Dictionary, moral

    Concerned with or derived from the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society

  151. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Exactly as you cannot observe temperature or X-rays “per se”. Folks with no Aristotle overdose call thermometer readings and a radio-graphs “observations”.

    Aquinas, a thoroughgoing Aristotelian proposed “temperature” as the quantitative extension of “heat” back in the middle ages. The Calculators of Merton even worked a bit on how it might be measured and devised the intension and remission of forms as a way of quantifying in a relative way the age-old question “hot enough for ya?”

    Instruments can enhance the senses, but we must keep in mind that the instrument itself will affect the measurement. A fair number of quality control problems I dealt with in my career were due to issues with instruments and their use. See here for fun examples:
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-statistical-conundrum.html

    A great many measurements are actually measurements of something else, which we might call “surrogate measurements.” Instead of ‘degree of polymerization’ we might measure ‘viscosity,’ instead of ‘tensile strength’ of a steel ingot we might measure its ‘Rockwell hardness,’ instead of measuring the density of coal in a bunker we might measure the radiation backscatter. Every such correlation increases the error in the final measurement. But when we are accustomed to the method, we often forget about the uncertainty.

    Technically, we don’t see X-rays. What we see are tracks on photographic plates. That these are presumably caused by X-rays seems well-founded, but we need to keep in mind that:
    a) we are affirming the consequence, a logical fallacy, and
    b) the current wisdom is that scientific knowledge is falsifiable, and so it might be caused by something else.
    Remember what Heisenberg said: we don’t see nature, we see nature as exposed to our method of questioning. IOW, if you only allow yourself to use hammers, everything in nature will look like nails. Use different methods and you get different results.

    Do X-rays even exist? Heisenberg also said that “the desired objective reality of the elementary particle is too crude an oversimplification of what really happens” and “the atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” The alert reader will note that Heisenberg was calling on Aristotle’s metaphysics of potency and actual. (Hey, what a crackpot!)

    But an “obligation” is another matter entirely. It is not a property of a material body. It’s like “consciousness” or “love” or “red.” There is no “instrument” even in principle. It is flat-out unobservable, full stop.

    Now we might say that if we can’t detect an obligation we can detect behaviors caused by the obligation and so infer the ob from the be, much as we do X-rays from the photographic tracks. That is:
    Obligation?Behavior
    Behavior observed
    Therefore, Obligation exists.
    But again, this is the fallacy of asserting the consequent. The observed behavior might be caused by any number of other things beside an “obligation” — as Aquinas once noted regarding the motions of the planets and the theory of epicycles. The motions, he said, might be explicable on the basis of some other plan not yet learned by man.

    But I do not insist that everything in the world be empirically observable. After all, I majored in mathematics, where we dealt in unobservables all the time.

  152. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Oxford Dictionary

    You realize that the dictionaries record usages?

    Cicero coined the word moralis (lit. “pertaining to manners”) in De fato, II.i to translate the Greek word ethikos. It came to mean “proper behavior of a person in society” and entered English in the 14th cent. by way of Old French with the meaning “pertaining to character or temperament.” You will notice what is elided, of course, is what constitutes the good or proper. It isn’t just what people do. It is what is proper for people to do.

  153. YOS

    Aquinas, a thoroughgoing Aristotelian …

    Someone may consider your comment very interesting. But it is also utterly out of the point. Do you think that what normal folks (people who lack Aristotle overdose) call “observation” has some help in what this very same people call knowledge, or not? If not, you have a very extravagant idea of knowledge. Mind you, something extravagant may be true. Normally is a waste of time. It depends very much on the alternative offered. Your alternative has about the same advantages as the world of Aristotle.

    You realize that the dictionaries record usages?

    Yes, I reckon they don’t deal with extravagances.

    Cicero …

    Very interesting, again. Perhaps. Very not to the point. Again.

    is what constitutes the good or proper. It isn’t just what people do. It is what is proper for people to do.

    Normally, it meant what is proper or good for people of his SOCIETY, not “for people”. Show me otherwise if you think I am wrong.

    However, it doesn’t matter. Imagine Cicero was thinking in “human beings” with his moralis. Two problems:

    1. Do you want Cicero’s moral, or think it was YTOM?

    2. Every morality presumes it is for “everybody”. “Everybody” may mean everybody in this society, or in humanity, depending the context of the formation of such morality. Basically, on whether the “barbarians” are people or non-people. Again, this gives you many moralities (as in the modern sense of morality), not an YTOM. Or, if you prefer, it gives you many contradictory YTOMs. But you can’t have many contradictory YTOMs; the T stands for “true”.

    So, the result of your new blablabla is … nothing. Again.

    It is very simple. Your non-observable YTOM may be true … theoretically. But as non-observable, it will always be theoretical. My observable non-YTOM may be wrong. But it will be wrong or right in reality, as far as we know it. Does it provide right and use-full predictions? I would be use-full.

    And more important. My observable non-YTOM is POSSIBLE (you can’t show otherwise). Therefore, Briggs is wrong. Therefore you are wasting everybody’s time.

  154. Predictions.

    Let’s look at homo-morality (the “moralization” of homosexuality).

    What predictions can we get form YTOM? YOS should tell but, I guess two possibilities.

    1. Homosexuality is part of the nature of man (very observable). Homophobia is part of the nature of man (very observable). Therefore, you will observe two moralities in the same society.

    2. Homosexuality is not part of the nature of man. (Not observable, but we don’t care about observations). Therefore, homo-morality will fail.

    What predictions can we get form non-YTOM?

    1. Morality is not any kind of belief. Morality aspires to be universal (observation). Therefore, either homo-morality will fail or (more probable) it will invade the whole society, eventually. But, not without struggle and conflict because moral fights tend to be terrible. There is not such a thing as a “reasonable moralist”.

    2. Homo-morality is not about letting homosexual live their lives in peace. If something is morally good, it has to be morally good for everybody. So, homo-morality is about homosexuality being “normal” (hugely non observable).

    Place your bets.

  155. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Do you think that what normal folks (people who lack Aristotle overdose) call “observation” has some help in what this very same people call knowledge, or not?

    Do not flaunt your ignorance. Aristotle was the father of empiricism. “Nothing is in the mind that is not first in the senses.”

    Cicero … Very interesting, again. Perhaps. Very not to the point.

    You cited the Oxford dictionary as if it were dispositive. I went back to original meaning.
    Cicero also said (in Orator ad M. Brutum)
    “Nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit id est semper esse puerum.”
    as we see repeatedly when this topic comes up.

    Do you want Cicero’s moral, or think it was YTOM [sic]?

    I still don’t know what you mean by YTOM. Slapping a label on something does not indicate understanding. Sometimes it indicates the opposite. One may talk about the label in an effort to seem knowledgeable without ever grasping the substance. What do you know of the morals of Cicero? For that matter, since you rather ostentatiously announced your refusal to read my comment earlier, you do not understand what I meant, either. It whizzed right past you. So your comments are not based on actual observations of YOS-behavior and by your own assessment are fantasies.

    Show me otherwise if you think I am wrong.

    Earlier I pointed out some of the features of this natural morality. Men everywhere say it is right for a man “to reverence his parents; to care and provide for his children; to be master of his lower appetites; to be honest and just in his dealings, even to his own damage; to show benevolence to his fellows in time of distress; to bear pain and misfortune with fortitude.” This does not mean everyone measures up, but even you are not so far gone as to claim each person decides on morality for himself. Only “society” decides. Whatever “society” means and however it “decides.” Though it is hard to see where the boundary is between each person setting his own morality, a handful doing so, a few thousand, 50%+1, or the vast majority. You mentioned opinion surveys that show a sudden and recent reversal homosexual behavior is OK. How does this compare to Nuremburg laws in 1930s Germany, which held that Jews were Not-OK? By your “observable behavior” rule, they are equally moral. You have consistently dodged this point while giving answers that you do indeed think so. Recall the bilked old ladies that irritated Joy so much.

    Now, the moral law derived from human nature is not like a set of ordinances from city council or the State legislature. They are a set of principles to be applied in practical situations, not a list of DOs and DON’Ts (as we actually find in cultures that do not recognize synderesis).

    Your non-observable YTOM may be true … theoretically. But as non-observable, it will always be theoretical.

    I bet you had problem in math class, dealing with all those non-observables.

    My observable non-YTOM may be wrong.

    You keep using that word “observable”, but I do not think it means what you think it means. You keep expanding it to include things that are in fact not observable to any sense or instrument, but which are inferences from other things which are observable. These inferences are always, as in “without exception,” based on a theory. That is, “If Theory T is true, then this Evidence E means this.” But it is well-known that physical theories are underdetermined and any finite set of facts/observations can support numerous distinct theories. So your observation has a particular meaning only in the light of a particular theory. Sometimes, when you are not conscious of your theory, you may not realize this and it will seem to you that the fact has an actual instrinsic meaning. Those who disparage this are usually, as Midgley wrote, enslaved to an outmoded philosophy.
    +++
    But you have already said that human beings are not rational animals “most of the time,” and that they do not give reasons but rationalizations. Cute sound-bites, both, but they subvert natural science along with natural morality and, as they apply to yourself as well, why should we take any of your statements seriously?

  156. YOS,

    Don’t flaunt your inability to think. And don’t brag with obvious knowledge which any 14 year kid has. Being Aristotle the father of empiricism does not follow modern overdosed Aristotelian are. You are not, for instance.

    I still don’t know what you mean by YTOM.

    Y repeated it many times. Yos True Objective Morality. You tell us what that is.

    OK, now you tell something without all the unnecessary (too many words) accessories. It is already answered:

    There are some nearly universal moral precepts. Does it mean an “objective morality”? You may call it so, if you wish. But, what does it mean? Does it mean God, or human nature? It may. It may mean anthropoid nature, or anthropoid social dynamics. Go check. You need observations. Don’t ask YOS or Briggs for them.

    YOS says:
    You mentioned opinion surveys that show a sudden and recent reversal homosexual behavior is OK. How does this compare to Nuremburg laws in 1930s Germany, which held that Jews were Not-OK? By your “observable behavior” rule, they are equally moral. You have consistently dodged this point while giving answers that you do indeed think so. Recall the bilked old ladies that irritated Joy so much.

    Unless you have an YTOM, you cannot compare moralities. You don’t have a common reference.

    My personal opinion is in the line of judge Roberts on gay marriage. He made a point on the universality of “normal” marriage (and many other good points).

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf

    So, I do think the universality of a moral precept is very probably not trivial. I do have more respect for more universal moral precepts. Quite a lot. I would be very carefull with them. But it doesn’t follow they come from the nature of man, or God. It could very well mean the come from social dynamics (or anthropoids for that matter).

    The relevant thing here is that my opinion, or yours, or Aristotle’s, or anyone’s, don’t matter. It is not the field where morality plays. And I can bet Aristotle had no clue about. So I find it very absurd speculating about what morality should be, and not caring about what morality is.

    Now, the moral law derived from human nature is not like a set of ordinances from city council or the State legislature. They are a set of principles to be applied in practical situations, not a list of DOs and DON’Ts (as we actually find in cultures that do not recognize synderesis).

    Show me how it works. Where does this principles come from? From the idea that “the nature of man is to be a rational animal”? It is plainly stupid and wrong. Moreover: you will never get an agreement on “the nature of man”. And your YTOM will be very dependent on each version of “nature of man”. So, you what you are saying is that “the moral law” is YOUR moral law. Good try!

    I bet you had problem in math class, dealing with all those non-observables.

    Not really. But I bet you have a problem in life, dealing with your problems with understanding. Where did I say abstractions needed to be observed? But, if I insist on observations it means I am referring to empirical knowledge, and is just stupid you bring maths as counter-argument.

    You keep using that word “observable”, but I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I told you what I mean very clearly.

    Do you think that what normal folks (people who lack Aristotle overdose) call “observation” has some help in what this very same people call knowledge, or not?

    OK, I understand my English is to bad. Here you go:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_evidence

    You may think empirical evidence is not such a great deal. Congratulations. You may be right. Found your bubble: Non-Empirical Evidence Team. Now we have a NEET who proposes a YOTM. Besides, I am a great fan of competition of as diverse as possible ideas, systems and methods. No problem with NEET. Unless you tell me what to do and what to think. Oops, precisely the function of morality!

    Listen. You may have great knowledge of one morality; YTOM. You don’t know what morality (the real morality working on the world) is. It is not what it “should be”. It is what it really is. It works how it works. And you can only know observing it. Do we have the quality of observations we need? I doubt it, but predictions will give you an idea. Otherwise, no observations, no way.

  157. @Joy:

    “Bravo Placaeme! Victory is yours.
    I am on your opponent’s side but apart from Dover Beach, who was polite, am embarrassed by their debate tactics.”

    It is curious that you have framed the issue as “victory” in a debate, not as the finding of the truth. At any rate, saying that plazaeme (I presume “Placaeme” is a typo and that you mean plazaeme), completely ignorant and proud of it, who cannot mount the semblance of a coherent argument much less recognize one, can take the victory palm, is so out of touch with what actually can be read in the thread, that it can only be explained by some weird psychological hangup that you have against YOS.

  158. 1.
    “Anything you want to know about souls, ask them.
    Or you could just read Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics.”

    Aristotle knew and you’re just passing on the message to all the idiots who refuse to read the book. Let me at it.

    The same Aristotle had more than one wife and yet maintained men owned more teeth than women!
    He had two examples and never thought to check. Of course logically this doesn’t mean he’s wrong when he’s counting his fingers and toes. If he can’t count teeth properly before declaring a universal truth about teeth then I’m not holding onto my hat to hear his musing on the soul. Since Ed F did such a terrible job on the subject of sexual morality and the soul and can’t write without sticking it to protestants then I’m not interested in his opinion for that is all it is. Same for anybody pushing Ed’s view. It’s your certainty which is irritating because it’s dishonest. He can feel sure as I do but you or he cannot say you know or that someone else is ‘totally wrong’ unless they are self evidently logically wrong. When I meet Ed, I’ll tell him myself and won’t hold back.
    2.
    On “English flat heads” Insult noted. You pretend to hide your distain and bitterness over protestants but it leaks all the time. The catholics lost that battle a long time ago, let it go. You could always switch teams. Don’t think you’ll ever make a Catholic out of me. What it’s really about is power. Earthly power it is about the haves and the have nots, about control and some of us enjoy being under more control than others. I don’t need a rod of iron to keep me on the straight and narrow. I promised never to let the iron enter my soul.
    3.
    swindled widows: It’s it at least four occasions, but it’s such an odd example, never mind.
    “I simply wanted to avoid the cliche of the murderer or the rake who treats women as sex objects, esp. as the latter is what most desire who reject an objective morality.”

    You have to laugh! Rakes aside, why do you think rape will be rife without God? Islam is direct proof that the existence of God as a premise doesn’t prevent rape. Briggsers’s argument is about atheists. Muslims are not atheist, obviously, so it’s not a universal point of morality.
    5.
    Bats? I know where they came from but why they came up was no coincidence. I forgive you YOS. Briggs encouraged it. There was the batty philosopher as well as what is it like to be a bat, shortly followed by the vampire bat, preceeded by one eyed battle generals, sharp eyes, missing eyes, myopia, blurred vision, tunnel vision and on and on. If you want to know what it’s like not to see or to see like me, hold your fist in front of your eyes and go forth and function. Or focus on a speck on the wall and read the paper at 45 degrees in any direction from midline, you won’t be able to do it. Then cross the road and see how fun it is to guess from the engine sound how fast the car’s coming. As for Nagel’s argument about knowing what it’s like to be another creature, it’s only the same as saying I don;t know what it’s like to be a YOS. Really that’s all one can draw from the article. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen them but had it not been for the barrage of childish blindness insults I would have been delighted to be reminded of them, you linked to them years ago as I recall in happier times.. As for inventing the Wheel, I don’t see the article as anything original. It doesn’t say anything other than the obvious. Like so many well known and quoted articles. They are prosaic. What philosophers like to do is to make a puzzle out of the simplest and most self evident truths. Quoting whole articles to win a single point in a debate doesn’t work because opponents want to hear point by point answers and preferably without insult, tempting as it is.

    To argue that morals lose their foundation without God is absolutely right. To argue that atheists are less moral as we observe them today is self evidently wrong. Many atheists are shining examples of moral beings. Of course the reverse can be true of theists. It’s more complex than can be measured and I think your opponent was trying to give examples of the real world as it plays out. I argued with my Dad about this, having started thinking about it when Dawkins began writing on London busses. Conscience must be nurtured. It’s hard to justify logically why a person shouldn’t do exactly as they like given the atheist premise. He now admits, given the current religious climate, where the church has served a purpose in society and offers more than it detracts. That is the attitude of most sensible atheists and is the same as expressed in so many words by Placaeme. Even Dawkins might reach this conclusion one day, if he is allowed the freedom

    As for universal morals? Humans must have innate moral capacity. This being demonstrated by compassion or empathy for others. Call it a sense of fairness. “Do unto others…” is an attitude shown in all societies however primitive. Some of these have historically adopted this approach without God of the bible. God made man in his own image, He included morality or we wouldn’t see non Christian people displaying morals without the christian code book or an upbringing that included it.

    Placaeme is onto something when he speaks of sociopaths. In my view and observation there are rather more of these about than manage to hit the news. What is the effect on them of thinking that there is no God. Aside from sociopaths, there are the minute particulars of good will to others and virtue which make the world a happier place.

  159. Sorry, PlaZaeme. (Noticed before |read rod’s intelligent comment).

    @Rodders,
    I don’t think you’ve been reading all the threads and comments for the last eight months.
    I also don’t think you’ve read Plazaeme’s comments. English is clearly not his first language and his writing style is quite refreshing.

    “it is curious that you have framed the issue as a victory”
    Now then, I have not framed the issue, the issue? what is the issue? crying atheists? how best to achieve a broken spirit in another? Or an argument about simple logic and common sense having to do with morality?

    I framed an argument as did everybody else. There are facts and logic and there is truth. There is a debate, these things are separate. To quote your favourite YOS, “Don’t get confused.’

    Who are you claiming is ignorant and proud of it?

    Who are you claiming cannot recognise an argument?

    YOS is not arguing with honesty and with response to what is written and he often does not. Plazaeme (who was too polite to point out I’d typed his name wrong) made points repeatedly which YOS ignored because he refuses to acknowledge his opponents point. He therefore missed the point and by default presented his opponent with defence of something which he did not claim. Normally a tactic used ad nauseam fashion by a certain other on here.

    You, like YOS have confused and spoken at cross purposes with plazaeme about 1.
    what the actual purpose of the post is, which was stupid and wrong, so the motion of the debate was self evidently falsifiable.
    2.
    what is meant by morality,
    3.
    how morality is to be qualified, objective or universal were banded about randomly without initially agreeing on premises.

    I could go on but really what I saw was Plazaeme trying to talk sense to YOS who’d galloped off into the distance and insisted that he defend the way in which he wanted to reframe the post. YOS doesn’t win because he isn’t arguing honestly either by accident or on purpose. If you read comments carefully you can find that your opponent and you agree on many things and find with honesty where the difference arises. You and YOS behaved like a bull in a china shop.

    Quoting a classical reference does not make an argument correct. See Aristotle on teeth, appeals to authority and irrelevant information.
    As I stated to YOS he would do better to just argue the point and not fall over himself to attribute Aristotle. I’m sure Aristotle won’t mind if he frames the point in his own words.

    Furthermore on psychology as you brought it up, ’tis you who are upset perhaps crying? who knows, Briggs is wrong here. He should have framed the argument better, as I stated when I first read the post.

  160. Joy,

    We disagree on some (maybe important) respects, but I don’t think it makes us opponents, or in opponent sites. Disagreement is not necessarily opposition. Not in the sense of resisting or preventing. On the contrary, disagreement may be seen as working together to find something. As in how good an argument works. It doesn’t need someone convincing other. It suffices with showing an argument is not working as it was supposed to. I bet Rodrigues will not use the G-metaphor again. He is wrong; not dumb. He should be grateful for it. Instead, he seems to be really pissed off. Go figure.

    Of course I don’t have anything against Chrsitianism, or Christians, whatsoever. I think it has done a lot of good. Not just more good than bad, but a huge positive balance. And on a not small measure, precisely on knowledge. Yes, in my view it was very much “corrected” and “civilized” during Enlightenment, and later, and it was very good. But it is done. Christian-ism in not doing any damage now — that’s a Dawking’s fantasy. He is a moralist. Moralists are not reasonable people. We have a good example on this thread.

    As you are someone reasonable for a change, and for the sake of argument, let me elaborate on your view. Maybe disagree.

    You have observed.

    1. To argue that atheists are less moral as we observe them today is self evidently wrong.

    But, you also think:

    2. To argue that morals lose their foundation without God is absolutely right.

    3. It’s hard to justify logically why a person shouldn’t do exactly as they like given the atheist premise.

    Let me try to assimilate the three points. Just assuming human behavior is very much affected by morality. It could be wrong, but then we would all be wrong. So, with this assumption, I speculate: Is it possible that the “foundation” of morality, and the “logical justification” of morality, are not what make morality work? It is the only way I find to make the three points true (they look true).

    The last point is important in my opinion. It is also a fundamental clue in Briggs’s confusion.- It’s hard to justify logically why a person shouldn’t do exactly as they like given the atheist premise.

    Well … it happens. You have observed it. Atheists (their behaviour) are not less moral, and they should. How could it be? I can only guess:

    – Atheists are cheating and they are not really atheists. Yes, it sounds funny, but I suspect Briggs has in part this line of thinking.

    – Morality does not come only from religion, and can be substituted by other sources.

    – Morality does not work the way Briggs thinks.

    One very last point.

    Humans must have innate moral capacity. This being demonstrated by compassion or empathy for others. Call it a sense of fairness.

    1. If it wasn’t innate, but social, you couldn’t notice the difference.

    2. If you observe compassion or empathy in other animals, for example chimps, you would see in humans exactly what you see, but it would not be strictly “human”.

    Hey, I am not trying to convince you. Nor oppose, restrict, or prevent your beliefs. It is just to see whether the arguments works or are easily destroy-able. For Rodrigues @ Briggs surprise, to destroy an argument is not to destroy a person. On the contrary, it lightens the person from garbage. It is a good think, not a bad think. So, feel very free to “destroy” my elaboration if you are in the mood. I would thank you, not insult you.

  161. Sorry, PlaZaeme.

    No reason to be sorry. It is a very strange nick even in Spanish.

  162. @Joy:

    “@Rodders,”

    Is there a point you are trying to make in deliberately and so utterly misspelling my name?

    “Plazaeme (who was too polite to point out I’d typed his name wrong) made points repeatedly which YOS ignored because he refuses to acknowledge his opponents point. He therefore missed the point and by default presented his opponent with defence of something which he did not claim. Normally a tactic used ad nauseam fashion by a certain other on here.”

    This is simply not true — actually the *reverse* is true. It is all over the thread. Most of the time (I have not read everything, there is only so much crackpotery I can take), plazaeme does not even make a coherent point.

    But really, the whole thread is so surreal, that I do not care. I behaved like a “bull in a china shop”? Maybe; since I withdrew a long time ago, at least I did not broke much of the china. Your irrational animus against YOS in particular, and Catholics in general, as is eloquently evident from your previous long comment, is I presume, so much better, that I will leave you alone to expand on it.

  163. @Joy:

    Somehow the middle paragraph got cut:

    Two corrections. You misunderstand the situation with Aristotle. See Rescuing Aristotle. The “English flat heads” is an expression Nietzche that YOS quoted. How you managed to read that as an insult of YOS against yourself? protestants? is anybody’s guess.

  164. … ignored because he refuses to acknowledge his opponents point. He therefore missed the point and by default presented his opponent with defence of something which he did not claim. Normally a tactic used ad nauseam fashion …

    Of course, there’s also a “debate morality” and a “blog morality”. Maybe the great philosophers of YOTM are missing this little and surely irrelevant detail. It happens often with philosophy.

  165. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    The same Aristotle had more than one wife and yet maintained men owned more teeth than women! He had two examples and never thought to check.

    Pregnancy results in calcium loss, leading to the old adage “One child, one tooth.” Childbearing in ancient times began shortly after puberty, which was equated with adulthood. Hence, except for those sterile, adult women did have fewer teeth than men. The myth about Aristotle never thought to check his wive’s mouths was made up by Bertrand Russell, who had no idea what Aristotle did or did not think to do and evidently did not think to open Aristotle’s book, where he would have found this:

    “Males have more teeth than females in the case of men, sheep, goats, and swine; in the case of other animals observations have not yet been made.” — On the Parts of Animals: Book III.

    This certainly seems to mean that in the cited cases observations had been made.

    On “English flat heads” Insult noted.

    That was the atheist Friedrich Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols complaining about Anglophone atheists, whom he saw as unwilling to follow the logic of the death of God to its conclusion. He regarded certainly English atheism as terribly contaminated with Christianity. A fuller quote is:

    When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. …

    When the English actually believe that they know “intuitively” what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt.
    — The Twilight of the Idols

    swindled widows: It’s it at least four occasions, but it’s such an odd example

    I wanted to use an example off the beaten track. As I said, most people who advocate a variable morality wish it to vary toward getting more sexual pleasure (which impairs their rationality). So I try to use an example that is not on the one hand an argumentum ad Hitlerum or on the other hand one that they will viscerally reject because it gets between themselves and the pleasure of their wiener, yet one that is still generally recognized as wrong.
    (*) impairs their rationality. As noted here: https://webapps.pni.princeton.edu/ncc/PDFs/Neural%20Economics/Cohen%20(JEP%2005).pdf

    Bats? I know where they came from but why they came up was no coincidence.

    The article by atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel is here:
    http://organizations.utep.edu/portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf

    To argue that atheists are less moral as we observe them today is self evidently wrong.

    Then it is fortunate I am that I have argued no such thing. In fact, I have argued to the contrary: that the core of good morality derives from human nature, which is common to all. The arguments against I took from atheists themselves. Voltaire wanted his butler to believe because he thought the butler would pilfer from him less. Rousseau thought religion should be encourage because otherwise society would focus on short-term gratification. Nietzsche as I already noted scorned atheists who tried to maintain Christian morality without the Christ. It was St. Paul who argued in Romans 2 that one needn’t know the law in order to follow it, since the law was “written in the heart.”

    The only problem is that folks are able to stifle that still, small voice in their hearts. The kernel of truth within plazaeme’s contention that he is not rational, is that our reason is always in contention with our lower appetites. Variable morality is like the man who leaves the highway to cut across the fields and forests. He might still reach the same destination, but it is far more easy to get lost.

  166. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 13, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Y repeated it many times. Yos True Objective Morality.

    But what does that mean?

    it doesn’t follow they come from the nature of man, or God. It could very well mean the come from social dynamics (or anthropoids for that matter).

    Or else social dynamics also follow from the nature of man as a social animal. (Dang! There’s that ol’ Stagerite again.) It’s well-known in statistics that if X is a cause of Y and X is a cause of Z, then Y and Z will be correlated and, to the uninitiated, it will appear as if Y is a cause of Z (or vice versa).

    I understand the anthropoid apes share a common ancestor with man, so we likely get nothing from them any more than you can inherit genes from your cousin. It would have to be from a common ancestor. So far as we can tell, none of our ancestral species possessed intellect, so morality as such would not apply; but surely there might be precursors of one sort or another.

    “the nature of man is to be a rational animal”? It is plainly stupid and wrong.

    I am grieved to hear that about yourself.

    Moreover: you will never get an agreement on “the nature of man”.

    Whether you get “agreement” on X is no indication of its truth value. For nearly two thousand years there was agreement on the nature of the solar system: the sun and the planets revolved around a stationary earth. [This was based on Evidence. There is no sensation of motion when you stand on the earth. There is no steady east wind. There is no observable stellar parallax, as you would expect to see if the Earth revolved around the Sun. (Hypothesis > predicted behavior; behavior not seen; ergo, hypothesis falsified.) Objects dropped from towers did not fall east of the plumb line, a behavior predicted by the Earth’s rotation.]

    Where did I say abstractions needed to be observed?

    My understanding from what you have written is that unobservables were “fantasies” and of no account. I wondered how mathematics fit into that worldview.

    You may think empirical evidence is not such a great deal. Congratulations. You may be right. Found your bubble: Non-Empirical Evidence Team.

    On the contrary. As Aristotle said (here he comes again!) “nothing is in the mind unless it is first in the senses.” The problems come when people abstract beyond that but still think they are talking about observations. (cf. the Ladder of Inference: http://whatsthepont.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/img_3639.png?w=256&h=300) OR when they fail to realize that an observation may have multiple meanings depending on the theoretical context in which it is viewed. That’s why Late Modern science puts such emphasis on “falsifiability” as a criterion of science.
    Example: Xenophanes observed marine fossils in the mountains of Greece. This is an observation. The only physical process he knew of that could deposit marine life on land was a flood. Since the fossils were high up in the mountains, this flood must have once covered the highest mountains. So the Greeks concluded to a world-flood based on Evidence. Sea floor uplift they would not have credited, since the motion was unobservable in that era. But notice how easily the Greeks could convince themselves that they had “observed” evidence of a world-flood. (In the Middle Ages, Albert of Saxony proposed that erosion — which could be observed — would have long ago ground the world smooth had to be countered by a contrary motion of uplift because there were still mountains.)
    Example: The rock stratum at the K/T boundary is richer in iridium than other strata. [Observation[ Iridium is rare on earth, but found in asteroids. So is this layer the debris of a giant meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs? {Inference] But volcanic magma is also rich in iridium [observation], so maybe it is the debris scattered by the age-long eruption of the Deccan Traps [alternative Inference]. One evidence, two meanings. Which is true? The meteor is currently the popular choice but truth is not subject to popular vote.

    You don’t know what morality (the real morality working on the world) is. It is not what it “should be”. It is what it really is.

    I worked for many years in Quality Assurance and know quite well that the actual measured qualities of products are often different from what they should be; sometimes radically so. You cannot determine what the standards are by measuring the product. I don’t see how you can know what is moral by observing people’s actual behavior. The reasoning is inherently circular. You are assuming up front that whatever people are doing is moral to begin with, then using that to define morality as what people are doing. But that is like saying a quality automobile is whatever rolls off the assembly line, and since this differs from plant to plant there is no such thing as objective automobile quality.

    Atheists (their behaviour) are not less moral, and they should. How could it be? I can only guess:

    One thing you did not guess is that these atheists are epigones of Western civilization and therefore heirs to a thousand years of Christian morality. They are “piggybacking on their ancestors.”

    You also did not guess that atheists share a common human nature and therefore a common morality.

    If it wasn’t innate, but social, you couldn’t notice the difference.

    If it were merely social you would expect far more fundamental differences between societies in their prescriptions of what behavior should be. But while they differ in application or details, there is a broad underlying similarity that is more parsimoniously explained, Ockham-Razor-wise, by a common human nature than that these disparate societies “just happened” to develop similar principles.

    If you observe compassion or empathy in other animals

    This word “observe,” I do not think it means what you think it means. (See Ladder of Inference, above: https://whatsthepont.com/2015/07/11/the-ladder-of-inference-climbing-down-from-expert-bias/) What you undoubtedly meant to say is “If you observe behavior in other animals which, if they were humans, we would interpret as compassion or empathy…” Too many Disney cartoons or Aesop fables lead us to anthropomorphize other animals. But even so, why should we not expect precursor (observable) behaviors or even precursor (unobservable) emotions in animals. Humans are animals, too. The difference is that we can use intellect and volition to modulate and even override imagination and emotion.

    BTW, I figured out why you were partly right earlier about people not being rational. As usual, Aristotle (run away! run away!) clues us in. People are not entirely rational. Our reason is always contending with our baser instincts of the vegetative and sensitive layers, which also constitute parts of our anima. We can get drunk, fall into a rage, feel irresistible thirst or lust, and so on, and in consequence interfere with our reason. That is why moral appeals are always appeals to reason; because it has the capability, not always exercised, of modulating the baser instincts.
    In connection with which, this is interesting: https://webapps.pni.princeton.edu/ncc/PDFs/Neural%20Economics/Cohen%20(JEP%2005).pdf

  167. YOS,

    As I said, you don’t have a clue on morality. And the same goes for reasoning.

    As I said, most people who advocate a variable morality wish it to vary toward getting more sexual pleasure (which impairs their rationality).

    A “variable morality” doesn’t exist. And of course there are no people advocating “a variable morality”. It wouldn’t have any sense. Of course, I mean more or less informed people; you can always find a crackpot. Or someone from another world; ie other era.

    – You can (and will) find different moralities. That is, different sets of moral precepts which produce different behaviours. This is not a variable morality. Well, no more than there is a “variable animality” or a “variable species”, you know what I mean.

    – You can (and will) observe a morality changes. And you can call it a “variable morality” in the same sense you speak of a “variable language” or a “variable person”. But this is not your meaning, and nobody advocates a variable language. Sensible people do not “advocate” simple facts.

    – You can (and will) observe different moralities in the same place. But this is not a variable morality; it is a mixing of different moralities. With a very crucial characteristic: As far as the different moralities induce different behaviours (ie they are different in a meaningful way), people will tend to live in morally segregated subspaces. There are people advocating mixed moralities and peaceful coexistence, but this is not advocating a “variable morality”. I would tend, by my “worldview” and personal “feelings”, to advocate mixing moralities. But the world doesn’t care about my feelings. Y can recommend you a book with a good example of how the mixing and the “peaceful coexistence” works in the real world.

    https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Andalusian-Paradise-Christians-Medieval/dp/1610170954/

    Note: When I link a book or an article, it is not meant to be an appeal to authority. Think of it as “food for thought”. (I know, you don’t need it; others could appreciate it).

    A “variable morality” is a self-contradiction. All moral precepts, and set of moral precepts are meant to be universal within the moral community. How would we know? By observation. There are not moral precepts which vary depending on individual’s moral preferences. This would be a “variable morality”. It doesn’t exist. It would be functionally equal to not having a morality at all. And yes, you sometimes find people who advocate “no morality” (they don’t know how society works, or they are cheating others) . This is not advocating “variable morality”. Remember: a moral is a code of behavior.

    How the heck do you come to think there are people advocating a “variable morality”? With your problems in reasoning.- Human nature does not depend on morality; morality depends on human nature. And if it is “variable,” it is not human nature. In fact, while ethics may vary, morality does not.

    Problem 1. Morality may depend on other things. For instance the “nature” (dynamics) of society. Note: not “human society”; at least “anthropoid society”, and any kind of society with similar dynamics and capabilities (ie learning, copying). Yes, I now; you find it impossible because Aristotle and Cicero, etc., did not see this possibility. Therefore, it is not possible. Sorry, this is bad reasoning. As bad a reasoning as you can get in the market of bad reasoning.

    Problem 2. If “human nature” was variable; and if morality depends on human nature; you could get “variable morality”. I know, I know; Aristotle, etc. And our knowledge on “human nature” has not advanced ever since, because it is impossible, because Aristotle etc. were insuperable in their thinking, and thinking is all we need (ie. we don’t need observations).

    Of course, it is always tempting to imagine atheists are advocating a “variable morality”, which is a self-contradiction. Therefore, atheists are crackpots. Very, very bad reasoning. A reasonable person will probably not think atheists are crackpots by the way of your argument, but the other way around.

  168. YOS.

    Sorry, I missed your last one (the email was late).

    Or else social dynamics also follow from the nature of man as a social animal. (Dang! There’s that ol’ Stagerite again.) It’s well-known in statistics that if X is a cause of Y and X is a cause of Z, then Y and Z will be correlated and, to the uninitiated, it will appear as if Y is a cause of Z (or vice versa).

    Why do you so strongly tend to think others don’t know basic stuff? Does it come from your “ethics”, or from your bad reasoning?

    – Or else social dynamics also follow from the nature of man as a social animal … and … Dang! … the universality of a moral precept may come from the nature of social animals.

    There you are. So obsessed with a dog fight, you missed the elephant in front of your nose.

    So far as we can tell, none of our ancestral species possessed intellect,

    So far as you can tell (you only see what your prejudices need) , and so far you define “intellect” in a convenient (circular) way. Change “intellect” with cognitive capabilities.

    so morality as such would not apply

    Sure. If “as such” is a convenient circularity, instead of an observable function, you will get your argument. Fooling yourself. Too easy.

    Whether you get “agreement” on X is no indication of its truth value.

    Sure. I didn’t say it was. Morality has never been observed to work with “truths”. If you don’t have an agreement, you may have a splendid idea of the “true” objective universal morality based on nature of man (you see why YTOM is a good tool?), and you will not be able to use it. So, you can mathturbate with YTOM; you cannot use YTOM in a human society. You have created the impossibility of an YTOM in reality. You are happy because it is “truth” in spite of being impossible? Good for you!

    The point. You tried to impose your morality based on your idea of “nature of man”. You will not be able to achieve it; others won’t accept your “nature of man”, truth or not truth. When your strategy is loser by design, what do you do, sir?

    My understanding from what you have written is that unobservables were “fantasies” and of no account. I wondered how mathematics fit into that worldview.

    You are trying to fight; you are not trying to understand what others say. This is the problem with truth-owners. I may say non observable equals fantasy for the sake of brevity. (Not too many words; remember?) But then, for an intelligent listener fantasy will not mean “of no account”, precisely because maths are of great account. You are looking for place to bite, instead of looking the whole beast. And, please, don’t answer you are not (literally) biting. Yes, I use acronyms and metaphors when they provide brevity and I can expect an intelligent listener to understand. Doesn’t work with fighting dogs, though. Instead of being faster, it becomes slower. And boring, which you seem to prefer.

    You may think empirical evidence is not such a great deal.

    On the contrary. As Aristotle said (here he comes again!) “nothing is in the mind unless it is first in the senses.”

    Already addressed. You are not Aristotle; only an overdosed. You don’t need to observe morality (or its effects) to understand morality. And, it was a conditional proposition.

    – You may X, then we would have Y consequences.

    You think empirical evidence is a great deal? Then, we don’t have whatever consequences.

    I don’t see how you can know what is moral by observing people’s actual behavior. The reasoning is inherently circular. You are assuming up front that whatever people are doing is moral to begin with, then using that to define morality as what people are doing.

    Not. At. All. Read the literature. Or just think. (Thinking is not reading Aristotle, etc. to find something convenient to quote). If morality is a code of behavior, you cannot look only at behavior to know morality. There are other elements affecting behaviour. You need to look the code. Yes, they are correlated, but not so tightly. And more importantly, you need to look the code changes, and compare codes.

    As you think there is only one “true” code, nature of man, and as you think your own idea of nature of man is the “true” code and you know it pretty well, you don’t need to look the code. You fool yourself.

    One thing you did not guess is that these atheists are epigones of Western civilization and therefore heirs to a thousand years of Christian morality. They are “piggybacking on their ancestors.”

    Yes, I did. In the very same comment, one paragraph down.

    – Morality does not come only from religion, and can be substituted by other sources.

    You don’t understand “their ancestors” (their culture) es, exactly, a morality that does not come from religion?

    This is a very stupid exercise, YOS.

    You also did not guess that atheists share a common human nature and therefore a common morality.

    I could not guess that, given the premise:

    – It’s hard to justify logically why a person shouldn’t do exactly as they like GIVEN THE ATHEIST PREMISE

    You are asking me to guess what is forbiden by the premise.

    This is a very stupid exercise, YOS.

    there is a broad underlying similarity that is more parsimoniously explained, Ockham-Razor-wise, by a common human nature than that these disparate societies “just happened” to develop similar principles.

    No, it is not. First, you imagine “human nature”. Second, they don’t “just happen”. It is already explained. Random morality code variations affect behavior which affects society which will NOT RANDOMLY survive or die. Where the heck do you get your “just happened” from? It is the exact opposite.

    This is a very stupid exercise, YOS.

    -Anthropomorphize.

    Yes, you can find authors denying the observations. You can find authors refuting the denial. It is called a scientific debate. I didn’t say non-YTOM was true. I said it was POSSIBLE (about 100 times). Being possible, G-metaphor is wrong. Being possible, YTOM is a theoretical possibility which will always be theoretical, against a POSSIBLE alternative working in reality.

    What is difficult to understand? Why do I need to say it once and again?

    This is a very stupid exercise, YOS.

    People are not “entirely” rational.

    No, this is not the question. Try to explain human behavior with rationality. Not the “entire” human behavior; just in general. Good luck.

    I insist. This is a very stupid exercise. I hope you are not offended if I choose not to continue. If I see something NEW, not already addressed, and NOT ABSURD (as asking for that which is forbidden by the premise), I’ll try to answer. Not sure, though.

  169. “You need to look the code.”

    The code that nobody is obligated to. Poof, your “observed” morality is nowhere to be found. LOL

  170. And with that Poof! your morality is shown to be a fantasy.

  171. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 14, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    A “variable morality” doesn’t exist.

    And then you go on to write of morality varying from place to place, time to time, and culture to culture.

    Perhaps you have a different view of “variable” than a mathematician. Here, I meant a variable as opposed to a constant, like c or pi.

  172. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 14, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Why do you so strongly tend to think others don’t know basic stuff? Does it come from your “ethics”, or from your bad reasoning?

    Or from what other people write exposing their misunderstandings and their compulsion to hurl insults.

    So far as you can tell (you only see what your prejudices need) , and so far you define “intellect” in a convenient (circular) way. Change “intellect” with cognitive capabilities.

    No, intellect is the capacity to abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars. It is evidenced by the use of language, which employs universals like “No,” “intellect,” “is,” “the,” “capacity,” “to abstract,” “universal,” etc., none of which, you will note has physical existence even though they may be instantiated in physical instances. How is that circular. (You can’t just claim it; you have to substantiate it.)

    It is not the same as “cognitive capabilities” because there are cognitive capabilities other than the intellective. For example, one way to know an apple is to eat it. Ingestion is the lowest form of cognition: plants and animals absorb the matter while destroying the form of the apple. The next higher level is sensation, which absorbs the form by leaving behind the matter. (When an animal sees an apple, little apples do not appear in the eyes.) A creature can know an apple by touching it, tasting it, smelling it, hearing its crunch upon its being bitten, by seeing its color, etc. Such sensing makes a being sentient.

    If these sensory inputs are unified by a common sense into a single perceived “image” (not restricted to visual), we have not only perception but consciousness, since the common sense clearly divides the world into self and Other. Instinct is the form of cognition that provides the animal with the inherited judgment that the perceived object is desirable or repulsive, so that it will move toward or away from it. The ability to retain the image even after the sensations are past, either in the memory or in the imagination, is further level of cognition. A being might know the apple because it remembers it or imagines it. These are sometimes spoken of together as the imagination, broadly-speaking. Such a capacity results in a creature that is capable of learning concrete tasks and being trained in concrete tasks.

    Finally, there is intellect a/k/a conception which as I said does not deal in particular perceptions but in generalized conceptions. From this dog and that dog and the other dog, intellective animals may abstract the =concept= of “dog.” This is not merely the recognition of a similarity among concrete objects, but the abstraction of the idea. The volition may then make a determination that the concept is desirable or repulsive and so embrace or reject it. It may also modulate the work of the imagination+instinct

    Imagination enables an animal to perform prodigious feats that often seem similar to feats of the intellect; but one should not confuse them. Descartes used the example of the chilliagon, the 1000-sided polygon: it is easy to conceive, but impossible to imagine. It is not visually distinct from a 998-sided polygon when one tries to picture it in the mind. Likewise, if one tries to imagine “dog” one inevitably imagines a particular dog (breed, size, color, etc.)

    Neanderthal, the best candidate for another intellect, ran for hundreds of thousands of years and shuffled off the mortal coil with pretty much the same tool kit as when it shuffled on. The only variations were regional, depending on availability of materials. This argues for instinct rather than intellect, as skeptic Michael Schermer argued.

    Sure. If “as such” is a convenient circularity, instead of an observable function, you will get your argument.

    How is it circular? If an animal possesses no intellect then as such (as non-intellective) it would not have a morality. When lions kill gazelles, they are not murderers.

    Whether you get “agreement” on X is no indication of its truth value.
    Sure. I didn’t say it was.

    You have been contending all along that what is moral depends on what people in a society actually do and/or what “society” condones. Now you claim you never said such a thing. Yet how can “society” act collectively without some broad agreement. (Beside, I said “truth” not “fact.”)

    You tried to impose your morality based on your idea of “nature of man”.

    I haven’t tried to impose anything. I have pointed out how atheists can be as moral as theists. The other option is what Nietzsche derided: simply going along with the afterglow of a dying Christian culture.

    You are looking for place to bite, instead of looking the whole beast.

    Nah, I was looking for consistency and evidence that you have thought through the implications of your position. You believe that atheists can be moral but reject the mode by which this is possible.

    If morality is a code of behavior, you cannot look only at behavior to know morality. There are other elements affecting behaviour. You need to look the code.

    Is it a code or a cipher? Never mind. I thought only observables mattered. Now we have observables (behaviours) plus some sort of unobservable (a code). This cannot be observable in the sense of written down because tribes without writing will have morality. (And they too will respect their elders, care for their children, conduct their affairs honestly, and so on. Just as if there were a universal morality underlying all the various particulars of time, place, and circumstance.)

    You don’t understand “their ancestors” (their culture) es, exactly, a morality that does not come from religion?

    Name one morality that did not, whether from Confucius, Zeus, Tengri, et al. I’m curious about this unobserved thing of yours: a non-religiously derived morality.

    First, you imagine “human nature”.

    If there is no human nature, how to you recognize that a Swede and a Bantu are both human? (Or do you?) Do you contend that humans lack the capacity to abstract concepts from percepts and to find them attractive or not?

    Random morality code variations affect behavior which affects society which will NOT RANDOMLY survive or die.

    Provide observable evidence of
    a) “random” morality code variations; (careful: random is a statistical concept) and
    b) societies that died because of those variations
    Then you can explain how you can use a biological metaphor when modern genetics is casting shade over the 19th cent. model.

    I said it was POSSIBLE (about 100 times). Being possible, G-metaphor is wrong.

    Surely, that is a quantifier shift. The most you can say is that the “G-metaphor” (whatever that may be) is POSSIBLY wrong. But if G- is what I suspect, you ought also show where I have invoked it.

    Try to explain human behavior with rationality. Not the “entire” human behavior; just in general.

    Language. Art. Literature. Mathematics. Science. Speculative thought. Music.

  173. Oh, @Rodrigues, (I do hate @ followed by a name, it’s so rude, takes extra characters and sounds like a human pretending to be a robot. Never a good thing.

    I didn’t misspell your name, I reworked it. If I were being mischievous I’d say I improved it but that wouldn’t be true and
    you might very well become cross.

    ‘anybody’s guess’? Read my previous and to follow reply to YOS and don’t pretend to have no imagination, it is unbecoming if you’re highly intellectual.

    (The highest intellects have the best imagination. Creativity and innovation as well as many other virtues depend upon it.) Actually, Imagination and memory is all you need. Nothing else matters when it comes to intellect, those are the only tools.

    No need to jump to YOS’s defence, he knows exactly what is going on. If he is reading better than he pretends he also knows that I don’t have a ‘deep seated animosity” to him. So kindly stop repeating it because it’s not a help.

  174. About Aristotle’s tooth induction. The defence is weak. You could have said everybody makes mistakes. I’m not so down on Aristotle as you think I just am irritated by your obsessing about him. It’s like my brother was over batman. Tea towel round the neck running down the hill.
    Given that children lose their milk teeth well before puberty and given that you say he definitely did plenty of checking he still missed the truth about teeth!
    Furthermore I am here to tell you that generalisations about a given population do NOT guarantee or accurately predict findings on examination of an individual. We have no evidence about Aristotle’s wives and their teeth other than what he said about all women! Do you think he should have been married before he asked if he could look in their mouth? Would that have been seen as a bad chat up line? A colleague asked if he could check my TMJ. Perhaps I missed something, twas ever thus. I did get a funny feeling! Do you suppose that could have been love?

    About the insult. Just because Thomas N used it, it doesn’t make it okay for you to use it as well. It’s still an insult! Why do you think it’s okay just because you repeated it? Anyway, I’m over it. I have very low expectations of comments on here.
    I took time to point out that this is one in a long line of barbed remarks about protestants and England which often eminate from your direction which I have hitherto ignored. If you were to say that you don’t believe to be English is tantamount to being an Atheist ‘moral progressive’ who’s nation is responsible for the moral downfall of the world I might then be convinced but Rodrigues answered for you.

    As to the moral discussion I will answer Prazaeme’s comment. Tomorrow. I want to think about them properly.

  175. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Actually, Imagination and memory is all you need. Nothing else matters when it comes to intellect, those are the only tools.

    Try to imagine a chilliagon and distinguish it in the imagination from a polygon with 998 sides. What is the difference in the two images?

    Imagine “bird.” Describe it. It will be a particular bird, one perceived live or in a book. Americans and NW Europeans will tend to default to a robin, but this is not universal.

    Try to imagine a conjoining and splitting topology on a function space Z^Y.

    I think you are using “imagination” in an analogous sense rather than in the sense of creating and retaining images in the mind. Since every act of the intellect is accompanied by an act of the imagination, it is easy to blur the distinction between perceptions and conceptions. The image may be visual (a robin, or a picture of an equation) or aural (a tune or the sound of the word, but the image is not the concept.

    But you speak of the imagination as a tool of the intellect and what thing is identical with its tools? A carpenter is not a hammer. Mozart was not a piano. That the intellect uses the imagination means that the intellect is not equivalent to it. What it does is use the imagination in order to “understand the unimaginable.” In my master’s thesis, I drew a diagram of the relationships of function spaces and their topologies to clarify what the mathematical logic had revealed. But in addition to the imagination, the intellect will use logic, analogic, inferences from causality, etc. Leverrier did not imagine Neptune. He deduced it from irregularities in the orbit of Uranus.

    We can, barely, draw a generic image of the human body. (But is it male or female? Black or white? Child or adult?) But what imaginative drawing could we make of “anthropoid” let alone “vertebrate”? Imagination gives the intellect a “leg up,” but it cannot get there by itself.

    Imagination has the same power [as the generic drawing], which is enough to convince most people that imagination is intellect. But imagination can still do more. When the differences between the things become too great to represent with a single picture which ignores individual differences, imagination can coin a symbol to stand for the whole multitude. The symbol stands in for the picture which cannot be made. Nominalism seems to be the identification of imagination (in this highest, most subtle activity of symbol construction) with intellect. (It’s striking to read St. Thomas speak about how imagination makes sign usage possible.) — Chastek

    Some short comments on intellect vis a vis imagination can be found here:
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/2841/
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/imagination-as-a-tool-for-intellect/
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/the-universal-in-imagination-and-in-intellect/

  176. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 15, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    It [Nagel’s comments on imagining oneself inside another’s skin] is still an insult!

    For the life of me, I can’t see why.

    this is one in a long line of barbed remarks about protestants and England which often eminate from your direction

    Nietzsche was very particularly talking about Anglophone atheists, whom he saw as not following the logic of atheism to its conclusion, the way French and German atheists did. That he disparaged English atheists does not mean that English=atheist. Far from being the source of moral downfall I regard England as overall a positive influence in the world, even when the Usual Suspects were denouncing “crown-and-cathedral” imperialism. As a Telugu friend of mine commented once, “We are glad the English left [India]; but we are also glad they came.”

    OTOH, their behavior in Ireland was less than stellar.

    generalisations about a given population do NOT guarantee or accurately predict findings on examination of an individual.

    Holy statistical inference, Batman! Who would have thought it needful to tell a statistician that?!

    Do you think he should have been married before he asked if he could look in their mouth?

    Greek culture in general paid little attention to women. It took a whole new religion to turn that around.

    About Aristotle’s tooth induction. The defence is weak. You could have said everybody makes mistakes.

    Weak, schmeak. Women lost teeth during pregnancies; men did not. Ergo, women wound up with fewer teeth. (Recall that drinking milk was dangerous back then. Beer and wine were safer, since the alcohol killed the bacteria and milk bred them. But beer and wine did not contain much calcium…) There may be a confusion over “have fewer teeth than…”

    What I was objecting to was Russell’s blithe dismissal of Aristotle as stoopid and unempirical rather than simply as mistaken. Very nearly every adult woman’s mouth he would have looked into would have had fewer teeth. As plazaeme would say: Observation!

    The problem is that what we have are Aristotle’s lecture notes, probably jotted down by a student; so much of it is brief and incomplete. Also, Ari made up words like “google” or “quark.” No, not those words exactly, but words with the same lexical disconnect from the then-current dictionary. Fortunately, we also have a thousand years of people noodling over his system, expanding it, improving it, discarding parts that turned up false, etc. There were ibn Rushd, al-Kindi, Maimonides, Joseph ibn Kaspi, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Bradwardine, and many others, Arabic, Jewish, and Latin. Some things Aristotle wrote, like motion being a ratio of an impulse to a resistance, although adequate for motion in a plenum*, were shown to be false in a vacuum by Bradwardine within the Aristotelian framework. Other things, like the aether and formal causation, once thought to be false, are making a comeback in Late Modern science as “dark matter” and “emergent properties.”

    (*) http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.4057

  177. I can’t believe people are questioning YOS’s honesty or his powers of reasoning. He is one of the most honest and intelligent commenters I’ve ever come across on the internet which is as plain as day from his comments.

  178. Plazaeme,
    For some reason I had difficulty with this response. I don’t see much disagreement apart from definitions which is making this confusing. I did try to clip it!

    . To argue that atheists are less moral as we observe them today is self evidently wrong.

    This was vague on my part. I refer to Christian morals, of course. Innate capacity is evident but perhaps some kinds of sensitivity is innate in animals. I wouldn’t use chimps as an example as they are known for the opposite behaviour too. They don’t have a moral code whereby good and bad behaviour is measured. Dogs show sensitivity to others so such features are not just human but human morality does go a bit further than that which we see in occasional acts of social behaviour in animals. This is where I make a distinction between Christian morals and the innate capacity which was observed in nations such as india, for example, before Christians had influenced them. What is seen and is still seen today is a culture that carries out unthinkably cruel acts and which are not considered wrong. Drowning Blind girls, one lovely little girl who never stopped smiling ‘Renu’ was dumped in a corn field because she was disfigured, Then there’s honour killing. Yet the same religion has features which emphasise the importance of charity. India is changing fast and now blind girls who have been educated begin to earn more money than their families and many want to know the girls again. It is the Christian value for all life which drove this change. This can be contrasted with the current trend in some nations to measure quality of life of another by selfish standards. Some would sooner die than lose their sight, so others must be killed to save them the same pain. The moral values which are Christian to preserve life are already being tampered with. I would argue that this is because those who make laws are prone not to the Christian world view. I am not blaming all atheists for euthanasia, I know many don’t agree with it but it is an example of how morals are lost without God.

    Atheists ‘as we observe them today’:
    I suspect that without the christian foundation, morals erode, become a different kind of thing entirely, but will be given the same name. They will be written into law because nobody will believe in ultimate justice. We will have to rely on worldly justice to suffice in every minute particular and forgiveness will be considered weak. ‘hate crimes’ are an example of this, equality laws are another. We slowly submit to a worldly tyranny even though God has been written off. Freedom to do exactly as a person pleases given the atheist premise becomes the opposite for the average citizen. Respect for the law disintegrates because there is no ultimate point in the justice. Why bother with justice? Enough people will be so hopeless and cynical that chaos and social disintegration occurs. At best, everybody turns against their neighbour and ‘tolerance’ with good grace is absent.

    Many atheists are still influenced by their christian culture, family upbringing with Christian ancestors and moral values. Many may be as you say fooling themselves but I’d say they aren’t fooling themselves about God, they really don’t believe in him but they are complacent about nations ability to sustain order and high quality society without the ongoing influence of God.
    God is distant for many and only really contemplated when touched by something profound. These people still have faith the size of a mustard seed.

    Without saying all atheists, logically there must be a real effect on some people who do think that they may do precisely as they like without ultimate justice. Maybe you are right, good moral atheists are really kidding themselves.

    Having said all that, I am more hopeful than many and don’t believe that ‘we’re all doomed’. Good always triumphs in the end. Truth always prevails.
    I think I have addressed the points you made in a round about way.
    Innate or social, ow can we tell?
    I say innate because it is there to start with however the news is spread. Church is a social apparatus. Fellowship is it’s primary purpose. Worship can be done in private, fellowship cannot. This does not make a difference to the question about moral foundations given the atheist premise. unless I am missing something, which is likely.

  179. The last paragraph was vague too,
    I mean to say that morals being influenced by social dynamics does not change the logic of the foundation of morals being God.
    So if it is innate, it must still be effected by social dynamics.
    Whatever degree is innate in animals could also be said to be affected to some degree by their social dynamics. The difference is in the morals themselves. Which are human because I define morals in religious terms and animals don’t have religions.
    Unless morals are redefined to be something else which then means they aren’t morals, they can only be a human entity.

  180. Dover Beach,
    I’m not mixing accusations of dishonesty of character with dishonest debating. I hope you aren’t either.
    The comments are all there on the page to read. Some of us are reading between the lines, not just me. When they do this, they often get things wrong.
    In this case I was correct about YOS’s views on Britain and Ireland. Substitute Catholic and protestant there, which is what I did.

    If someone ignores a point as a matter of course and brings up a straw man or a distraction to the point then this is false argument. I think there was a good deal of this on this thread. Having been on the receiving end of some of this. If you haven’t read all the threads or been party to some of this you won’t know what is going on. Threads stand in isolation. PERSONAL Commentary and method of debate crosses posts, obviously.
    ……………………

    YOS,
    I’m relieved to hear you know the truth about the British elsewhere in the world. Otherwise I might think you’ve been listening to Obama and Washington’s machinations.

    To be clear I do not have a deep seated animosity but wasn’t far off then in my guessing your Ireland/England view. I went a step further and guessed that this is due to your denomination. I do have a deep seated distain for certain Catholic attitudes which have been revealed on this site. British Catholics are different. They slate their own religion and protestants aren’t interested, frankly, in what Catholics are up to. That has been my experience. The protestant, church of England creed gives credit to the ‘holy Catholic and apostolic church’ formerly every Sunday. So the official line, it seems is a one way street.

    For the life of you? you can’t see why?
    Here’s why:
    (It IS a small point, a distraction,

    Insults: If one says ‘red-neck gun toting Americans’ while talking to a ‘Texan’, One can’t claim ’no insult’ just because one didn’t coin the phrase. Intentions may be a different thing but it is argued here that one didn’t occur. which is false.
    If none were intended because you thought I would know that the man with the unfortunate name meant English speakers! then that may well be true, I hope so but just because he meant English speakers, it doesn’t reduce the insult does it? It widens the realm of the target. Just as Briggs implying that atheists cry or that he gives a recipe to make them cry means evidently that abuse or insult is intended; it is then silly to be surprised if a person claims to be insulted! If they don’t cry he’s wrong, if they do he’s wrong!

    Noted anti protestant comments and have read some questionable commentary about Ireland,
    There is no justification for terrorism and I have no sympathy for IRA sympathisers, the IRA are organised psychopathic torturers and murderous gangsters.

    They killed our Welsh guards en mass and many other soldiers and fathers, brothers, husbands and innocent women and children in the cross fire.
    According to one of our Northern Irish soldiers, it hasn’t stopped. Just when do you suppose the debt will be paid?

    Any view you have usually has a classical reference to pick the bones out. I’m still not convinced about Aristotle’s tooth truth. I think it shows he was fallible.

    On intellect with respect to imagination. Your remark simply alters the definition of the word imagination to emphasise the visual, what a surprise. The prefix ‘imag’ is obvious but that is not how the word is used or what is intended by it’s use. In anticipation of being called a ‘sloppy modern’ again, I am also here to remind you that we don’t speak Latin or greek in the modern day. We speak the Queen’s English. In England Smart means formerly or conservatively dressed outside of the phrase smarty pants and pants mean underwear over here. Yet do I correct you Americans every time you misuse the word? There wouldn’t be enough hours in the day. When in Rome.

    The other one, not YOS,
    Real bones we shouldn’t have to pick. Nor should we be blamed for the accidental broken bones of others! They should look where they’re going. That is if their eyesight isn’t disordered towards it’s proper function, in which case they are excused.

  181. and Keats said:
    “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination – What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth – whether it existed before or not – for I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their sublime, creative of essential Beauty”

  182. Ye Olde Statistician

    August 16, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I’m still not convinced about Aristotle’s tooth truth.

    Step 1: Are you convinced that teeth were lost in pregnancies?
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529162934.htm
    +++

    I went a step further and guessed that this is due to your denomination.

    Nah. It has more to do with colonial-imperialism. Oh, and the Famine. But that was then; this is now. As colonial oppressors go, Britain was less bad than most others.

    If one says ‘red-neck gun toting Americans’ while talking to a ‘Texan’, One can’t claim ’no insult’ just because one didn’t coin the phrase.

    The Texan might take it as a compliment. However, if you say, “John Academic has referred to red-neck gun toting Americans,” it’s more on the lines of reportage of (in the case in point) a vehement atheist’s contempt for other atheists who think they can preserve Western morality. It was one of the arguments against the question of whether atheists can be as moral as theists. St. Paul was called upon to give the argument that they could be.

    surprised if a person claims to be insulted

    Certainly not in this day and age, when people can take offense even when none was offered.

    There is no justification for terrorism and I have no sympathy for IRA sympathisers

    Do you know of any here?

    Just when do you suppose the debt will be paid?

    One also hears of fathers, brothers, husbands and innocent women and children killed by the other side, so I suppose the answer is “never” because each new atrocity must be paid back; and then the payback is seen by the Other as a new atrocity in the other ledger column.

    Your remark simply alters the definition of the word imagination to emphasise the visual

    No, the phantasm may be auditory, too. But the human imagination is primarily visual and when we imagine a horse, it is generally the visual impression of a horse we conjure. We may also imagine its whinny, its smell, the clopping of its hooves, et al. And when we imagine a unicorn or a Houyhnhnm, we generally imagine them visually as well. OTOH, to imagine a conjoining topology on a function space is impossible. You have to conceive of it, not imagine it.

    Did you read any of the referenced items?

    but that is not how the word is used or what is intended by it’s use. In anticipation of being called a ‘sloppy modern’ again, I am also here to remind you that we don’t speak Latin or greek in the modern day.

    That’s okay. I don’t speak Greek, either. But sometimes in specialized topics words are used apart from the common speech. For example, in topology a maze is a “simple” curve and a figure-8 is a complex curve. And if one is trying to rebut a proposition it is well to use the definitions employed by those who put the proposition forward.

  183. YOS,
    You are amazingly stubborn and churlish in your reply, particularly your obtuseness over the rednecks. I’ll catch you later as I have to go to work
    Just quickly though,
    Do I doubt that teeth were lost in pregnancy? Oh please YOS,
    Teeth are STILL lost in pregnancy. Ligaments are dammaged, sympthasis pubis ruptured, fistulas caused, Herniated linea albas, piles, skin disorders and on and on.
    I don’t need an html to know this, nor should you.
    More later.

  184. The original post and basically all responses to it have been absurd and nonsensical. The master of false premises has struck again.

  185. John: The master of useless comments strikes again.

    (I do agree this has dragged on—I gave up following it long ago.)

  186. I am sorry that I haven’t checked my typos. It takes about half an hour.

    “It has more to do with colonial-imperialism. Oh, and the Famine. But that was then; this is now. As colonial oppressors go, Britain was less bad than most others.”

    I didn’t say you weren’t entitled to your opinion or your right to express it. I don’t have to agree.
    Mine, of course, is that we were not just less bad but we were a bonus! They were lucky to have us.
    “The sun never sets on the British empire”
    Is still true today but for poetic rather than physical geographical reasons.

    I personally don’t think colonialism was a bad thing. Sorry to be so shocking. In Britain’s case everywhere was left better than it was discovered. Education, sanitation, healthcare, government, (parliament), religious institutions and religious harmony where disharmony occurred before. Christianity was promoted or introduced in every example, architecture was improved! Beautiful structures were retained and appreciation for the nation’s history and art and culture was not something that existed before. This is not just turn of our colonial past but our influence in general around the world. We inspired notions that were hitherto unheard of such as caring about history, culture, art of the place under our power or influence. We never colonised Greece or Egypt but before the Brits these nations didn’t care about their ancient history. (incidentally, Greece just let us keep our Marbles. I wonder how long that will last. One in the eye to Clooney’s wife.)
    There’s not an argument I’ve heard yet to convince me otherwise. This is something which is not provable and even if it were it would make no difference to some, not you, I’m not talking about anybody in particular..

    If one says ‘red-neck gun toting Americans’ while talking to a ‘Texan’, One can’t claim ’no insult’ just because one didn’t coin the phrase.

    The Texan might,

    or might not.

    “Might has no predictive power,” W M Briggs.

    I might have taken offence but I didn’t. I noted the insult. Can you recognise the difference?

    YOS, I understood the first time. It’s not a lack of understanding, it’s a lack of agreement because of a lack of clear, consistent argument.

    I am writing about insults “red neck” is an insult. Whether some might take it another way because of a pride at wanting to appear tough is not important in this example.

    Here are some more without the sentences accompanying so as to make the point. “Big nose, smarty pants, hoity toity,
    scardy-cat, pointy head”

    The john academic point is already a given but you refused to accept that the phrase was an insult. I thought you intended to be insulting. You haven’t yet said that you did not. It might have saved some time. I have had to infer this over a period of hours.

    surprised if a person claims to be insulted

    “Certainly not in this day and age, when people can take offense even when none was offered.”

    ‘offered’? we are skirting around the word intended and ignoring the word ‘flat head’.

    Once more, there is insult, intended insult and there is offence taken. These are all different, clearly.

    My remarks about intellectuals with intractable depression is a good example. I know two academics at least who took mortal offence where none was intended! God bless both of them. “intractable depression” is not an insult per se, “intellectuals with intractable depression isn’t either.”

    “There is no justification for terrorism and I have no sympathy for IRA sympathisers

    Do you know of any here?”

    No, do you? You wouldn’t tell me if you did, know any, I mean. I went to college with some, I can recognise them a mile away.

    “One also hears of fathers, brothers, husbands and innocent women and children killed by the other side, so I suppose the answer is “never”

    There it is! Sympathy for the terrorists. The sides are not equal. in my eyes any more than the Allies fighting ISIS.

    “because each new atrocity must be paid back; and then the payback is seen by the Other as a new atrocity in the other ledger column.”

    Yep, “Latins” never let forgiveness get in the way of revenge.

    “No, the phantasm may be auditory, too.”

    Here’s where this goes strange.

    ” But the human imagination is primarily visual.” ( This is a claim which cannot be substantiated.)

    ” We may also imagine its whinny, its smell, the clopping of its hooves,”…it’s taste, it’s rough main.

    “to imagine a conjoining topology on a function space is impossible.”

    Ask Tom Vonc, he can do it, for sure.

    ” You have to conceive of it, not imagine it.”

    Nope to conceive is to bring forth into being. To create or to make, to invent a new thought would to be conceive. The word is misused. “I cannot conceive of this.” Is bad English.

    “Did you read any of the referenced items?”

    No. I have read your remarks about imagination before and disagreed so I’m glad we’re sorting it out now!
    I don’t read the links always. I used to, but in this argument it isn’t necessary to offer proof or separate evidence. There is no proof and evidence here is unnecessary.
    That’s okay. I don’t speak Greek,”

    I am familiar with Latin, I studied it at school and medicine as well as much of the language has it’s derivation from Latin. I don’t speak it. It is a dead language. You know you’re in trouble when somebody starts speaking Latin, there’s usually a ghost or a vampire nearby.

    “sometimes in specialised topics words are used apart from the common speech. For example, in topology a maze is a “simple” curve and a figure-8 is a complex curve. And if one is trying to rebut a proposition it is well to use the definitions employed by those who put the proposition forward.”

    Yes and since I brought it up, I hope you will oblige.
    Imagination covers everything in the “Conjuring up’ department of the mind!
    “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction’ let alone in the face.
    There’s art in describing it, which is what you and me and Keats were doing. Not to be cheeky. I wouldn’t include myself in the same bracket as those two.

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